My goal for the year was to plant an additional five trees in my yard. Before spring the yard contained thirteen trees (1 elm, 1 sycamore, 1 maple, 3 yellow poplars, 3 Norway spruce, and 4 red oaks). Over the years I have drawn out several plans to add to my trees.
However, the nursery stock this year was harsh. I rarely saw a shade tree worth a second look and the conifers were wicked expensive. Early in the season I was able to find a pair of Norway spruce for about $65 each. This was an easy choice since I had a spot picked out:
Both trees really took to being planted and put on a thrush of new growth within weeks. The weather this summer has been amenable to trees as well with well-spaced moisture and not too many blistering hot days. Even the days that were hot lacked the combination of heat and sun that really seems to knock the stuffing out of plants.
Hopefully before the end of fall I can trim around the trees like the maple in the foreground of the picture above. The surrounding mulched bed will not be planted with perennials like the maple. Over the years the branches will spread to encompass the entirety of the mulched bed. Also, this is just the start of what I have planned for this side of my yard. See the disastrous “sport” court in the neighbors’ back yard? Yeah, I do not want to see it either. Next year is going to be a heavy year for trees.
Just this weekend I ran across a store doing a fall sale of container grown conifers for just $15 each. Normally, I am not a fan of Colorado blue spruce as the species is over planted in eastern Iowa. I could not turn down relatively good looking trees at a low, low price. I picked up three and got to work finishing another planting bed where I am trying to take out all of the turf grass:
This part of my lawn is almost entirely sand. The only soil, so to speak, is what came on the rolls of sod that were laid down and what I have added when planting trees. The area has little soil fertility and retains very little moisture. It is like a thin layer of soil, compacted, and sitting on a jelly roll pan. If you pour out a bucket of water you can watch it flow downhill without really penetrating the soil. While the rest of the yard can handle a period of drought—mowing the grass extra high and allowing clover to spread helps—this little corner dries out and dies. I had considered top dressing the lawn in this area, but felt that it was a better use of space to plant trees and perennials, edge the area, amend the soil, and deeply mulch. I will get to the edging, amending, and mulching next year. I promise.
The only downside of all of this planting is that I have used up the contents of one of my compost bins. There is some compost left and a few things that did not break down over the years, like the muslin bags used to steep grains during my homebrewing days, which will go into a mixture to improve soil health in the areas where I remove turf. The other bin is fairly full, so in a year or so I should have a lot of nutrient dense compost to amend my sandy soil.