Oasis Part II


Last week I wrote about the rise in customers who are designing their yards to provide more outdoor living space. Some are creating entire themes that provide a unique stay-cation option to summer travel. I can truly relate. Come fourth of July, my back yard is my number one desired location to be. I hear more people say things like “we live in our yard during the summer” than ever before. 

Over the years I have seen some grand yard transformations as well as a few that ended in buyer’s remorse. For this week’s article I will list a few pitfalls to avoid. 

Many people want the Pacific Northwest Mountain look brought down from the six-thousand-foot elevation to their back yard. This means a water feature of some kind, big rocks, several Sub Alpine Fir trees, a fire pit and lots of those beautiful Quaking Aspens! Let me prequalify by saying this can be accomplished and be quite lovely. That said, for the average yard this scenario can quickly become a headache design. Those cute little sub Alpine Fir will get big. They are not a dwarf species. Putting them in tight groups, too close to a water feature or building is not a good idea long term. Also, they need to be closely monitored for a very damaging insect called Balsam Wooly Adelgid that is growing in population across the west. Aspen trees are wonderful but by far not the best choice for the typical yard. They need lots of water but rarely get enough which leads to aggressive, destructive rooting and little Aspens all over. Further they are susceptible to many insect and disease problems and need sprays and systemics to keep them healthy.  

I share this information as I have had so many customers distraught over the fact that their expensive back yard oasis has become a maintenance nightmare that is quickly outgrowing itself. 

Creating Your Own Oasis

 Spring has finally warmed enough that most everyone is now outdoors pushing mowers, raking leaves and thinking of yard improvements. This in turn generates new landscaping ideas for many people. Many of us love living here for the outdoors and creating outside living space is very important. More and more people are placing a high priority on fashioning their back yards into personal sanctuaries where they can destress and recharge. As traffic increases and summer destinations are harder to find and book, I am also seeing more people bringing the weekend or vacation experience to their back yard. For example, I know some customers who removed most of their lawn and put in fine sand. Further they added a Tiki bar, fire pit, raised pool and hot tub. Five o’clock on Friday when the rest of us are rushing to connect camp trailers and beat the mass exodus for the greater beyond, they have slipped into flip flops and a Corona has found its lime. Other folks I know have invested in large outdoor fireplace kits and paver patios. They removed several Ponderosa Pines in the central part of the yard to accommodate volley ball and other yard games. Other people simply want a small place of privacy where they can enjoy their morning coffee. The common theme that everyone has is making sure they create some screening for privacy. Screening can be from the neighbor’s buildings, windows, elevated lot position to light and sound pollution from roadways. The challenge however is to create screening from the things we desire to block, yet capitalize on sunlight, shade and keep the views we want. For a few weeks I thought we could camp out on this topic and address some basic concepts, ponderings and pitfalls I have seen. So, before you rush off to the landscape supply store, stay tuned for some topic related tips next week! And as always, for further questions, quotes or consultations, give us a call today. 

By Design for Nature


Last week I had written briefly about a tree removal project being stopped by a mother squirrel and her little ones up in the top of the tree. Trees are used as a home by critters of all kinds from birds, squirrels, raccoons and many insects. I have more than a few stories of encounters with wildlife in trees that are fun to tell. If at all possible we perform a close visual inspection prior to climbing to avoid any encounters and hasty retreats!

Knowing that many animals use trees as habitat, we can suggest and create trees for their use on certain locations. Typically, this opportunity presents itself when we are removing a tree. Taking it down to a safe height where it is no longer a threat to people or objects, but leaving it high enough for animals to use. This is often called a wildlife snag. This typically applies to property of some size but even a short tree trunk with stubbed branches can support bird feeders and supply years of fun birdwatching. Sometimes we will even perform specific boring cuts to provide a hollow on the trunk, giving certain birds and/or animals a spot to begin a home. Taller wildlife snags that can be left near the water can provide perches for Eagle and Osprey. I have also had homeowners in this scenario build a platform that we have attached to the top of a half-removed tree for a nesting site. 

People often ask the question, is leaving a dead tree, or portion of one, harmful by providing a home to destructive insects such as Bark Beetle. The answer is rarely. Most Bark Beetles have exited by the time a person notices the tree is dead. Remaining wood will attract wood boring insects, and they in turn will attract many varieties of birds who will feed on the borers. 

So if you enjoy the wildlife and the opportunity presents itself, consider leaving a portion of a tree removal for them to use.