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Huge backyard mess

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May 27, 2013, 08:26 PM
Huge backyard mess
Hi! Me & my boyfriend just moved into our first home. We can handle the front yard but the backyard is a mess! Its so big & has so many trees that we dont really know what to do with it. Its fenced in & there's a deck but we would like to remove some trees & clean it up. And since we just purchased the home, we are on a budget. We would like to have grass, flowers, the usual & we've got an idea of how we want it but dont know where or how to begin. Think we might need landscaper but than think we can do it on our!
May 28, 2013, 06:02 PM
1) sit back, build a clip folder of things you like from magazines and such, and don't fool with the backyard for a year. removing trees is a forever thing in your lifetimes.

2) after a year to really decide what your priorities are in the house, sort them in order. maybe the basement is more needed. maybe the bathroom is hopeless, not just "bleah." maybe the furnace fails and you have to deal with that 5 years before you thought you had to.

3) when you get to the backyard, then draw it to scale, cut out some grey plastic sheet to indicate where the heavy shade is, and tape it in place. now cut out the features you want, label them, and shift 'em around. if you have to intrude on some less spectacular trees, then think about removal. I would leave feature trees, the best ones, for a good mix. you also will appreciate shade over part of the deck and house on a hot sunny day, and it helps cut down the AC bill.

4) sweat equity! wear out the old clothes and do it!

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
May 28, 2013, 06:22 PM
Thanks for the ideas! We've basically got the inside how we want it...all tiled floors, new paint, new window shades etc. We're happy with the inside right now so its onto tackling the yard. We do plan on keeping some trees that kinda shade the house but we would like to cut a couple of them down(there are about 20 trees). I was told that some logging companies will cut them down for free if there were at least 10/more & pay for the trees. But would it be better if we hired a bonded landscaper? Just dont think we could do it by ourselves cuz of our work schedules.
May 28, 2013, 06:46 PM
Swschrad offers good advice, especially on the issue of tree removal.

But if you really do want to start now, you could also list your priorities for the yard, which seem to be some tree removal, clean-up, grass and flowers. Then list the tasks necessary to accomplish your goals. E.g., for lawn and flowers, you may have to get the soil tested, amend the soil, clear some weeds, etc. It all depends on what's in your yard right now.

As to the trees, unless they're just saplings and unless you have experience removing trees, definitely hire a tree removal service. You could easily injure yourself, others and/or your property.

Get estimates from 2 or 3 tree removal services, get a copy of the liability insurance certificate for the selected contractor, then go for it. Expect to pay a lot; tree removal isn't cheap.

But before you have any trees removed, wait out the summer to determine where you have and where you need shade. Also, what kind of trees do you have? Some may be junk trees and should come out anyway, but if you've got some good trees, you might want to keep them for awhile.

I've not heard of logging companies removing trees for free, but I would certainly be interested myself. Where did you obtain this information? Have you contacted any logging companies?

Cleanup other than tree removal is something you can start anytime. Is there junk in the yard? Rent a dumpster and get rid of it. Are there swing sets or children's play things? Try to sell them on Craigs List. If any of the cleanup involves safety issues, tackle those first.

As to grass and flowers, is there no lawn now? What is the yard like? Sand? Dirt? Weeds?

One thing you can do is get some plants appropriate for your zone and keep them in containers while you're planning the rest of the yard improvements. You'll at least have some color during the summer.

I would also check with a local agricultural extension service, or do some research on what plants survive in Louisiana. When I was there on vacation, it was hot and very muggy. Not all plants can tolerate that kind of climate, so do your research first.

Your local Lowe's or Home Depot may have publications on southern climate plants. You can also try online sources. Here are a few with which to begin:

Louisiana Native Plants:

Louisiana Native Plant Society:

Plants for Zone 8:

I'm assuming that you've been Louisiana residents for awhile and are aware of the high water table. That would have to factor into any plans for the back yard, especially if you want to build anything like a gazebo or deck.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
May 29, 2013, 07:08 PM
Thanks alot for the info! We will prob keep some of the trees(pine & oak). I did call one logging co in area but they couldnt do it since it was not cost effecient cuz we didnt hv the acreage they are used to handling. We only hv about half an acre with about 20 trees. Most of the land is covered with pine needles & pine cones, not alot of green grass & no flowers. We do hv 2 azalea bushes sitting against our back fence. So i got number of landscaper who was recommended to us. Will prob give him a call. Thanks again!
May 29, 2013, 08:00 PM
And thanks for the update. It's nice to know what plans are made after considering the issues.

Were you aware that you can use the pine needles for mulch? I don't know if you're interested in crafts, but if so, the needles can also be used to make baskets. Some patience is required though!

I'd be inclined to keep the pine and oak trees, unless the latter are deteriorating. There are a lot of oaks in my area, and some of the older and taller ones gradually start dying and become hazards during even moderately strong winds. It's not unusual to hear the sound of chain saws and see piled up limbs on the berms after a major wind event.

The landscaper, or an arborist, could help determine if any of the oaks are unstable.

Good luck with your plans.