...because home doesn't happen overnight.

During our first weekend as homeowners of the Underdog, we had some lumberjacks professional tree cutters {Ironically, one guy was named Phil Wood.  I couldn’t have chosen a better tree trimmer’s name myself.} come out and remove all the trees and shrubs that were either 1) dead or 2) precariously close to the house.  Cutting down 50-year-old trees that are 25-50 feet tall is beyond the scope of our DIYing skills. Here’s what the Underdog looked like upon closing last week…

{front yard}

{backyard}

…and here’s what the Underdog looks like this week minus dead trees and trees that would crush our little house if they were ever to blow over…

{don’t mind the white trash mess on the back patio}

The tree trimmers also ground up the stumps and roots of the trees that were removed.  Hopefully, it will help the lot and house to dry up a bit and deter future termites.

We opted to keep a large oak that sits closer to the road in the front yard.  The back side of the tree {closest to the house} is kind of bare.  The tree trimmers said it was because the other trees were crowding it and that it should fill out now that it has room to breathe.

We also kept 2 redbuds near the driveway/side yard.

And we left the tree line at the back of the property as-is.

With most of the trees gone at the front of the house, you can actually see the entrance now.

A walkway wraps around the garage from the driveway to the front door.  I love that the garage {left} and far bedroom {right} jut out from the rest of the house.  It gives the ranch a little more depth instead of just being one continuous flat facade.

{That’s Everett peeking in the window.  Would you believe I forgot my key to the new house on this particular day?!}

The front door needs a major curb appeal intervention.  The storm door is so loud and heavy!

There’s a crooked paver patio just left of the front door.  It’s overgrown with weeds.

Our home inspector said the concrete planter full of mulch is just asking for termites.  I could see a really easy succulent garden filling up the planter without the need for mulch.  Hmmm…

The tree removal revealed a few unique quirks about the house too.  Not that we didn’t notice them before, but now they’re pretty evident.

Like this corner of roof that was repaired 2.5 years ago when Hurricane Ike hit.  We learned from neighbors that another oak tree {one that we had removed} dropped a branch on the house during the storm, crushing this corner of the roof.

There are parts of gutter pulled away from the roof.  And check out these wooden shutters…

Next time I go visit the Underdog I’m going to remember my 1) key and 2) crow bar.  Those uglies have to go!  There were some nice discoveries as well…

…like a mature lilac bush that just needs a little pruning…

…some Lily of the Valley that I’m vowing to salvage and transplant throughout the yard.

There are a few rose bushes.  I’m anxious to see what color blooms they yield.  The property has several crowded, overgrown perennial beds that I’m itching to clean up.  I in no way possess a green thumb, but I figure if these plants can survive through years of neglect then I might actually have a chance with them!  They’ve gotta be pretty hardy.

Layne worked on his ‘courtyard’ while Everett and I walked around and took pictures.  He constructed it out of random findings:  loose bricks, broken downspout, old flower container and rusty, wire garden border.

So, that’s what’s new with the Underdog.  I know I’ll probably catch some flak for cutting down trees but, if it makes it any better, we do plan on adding a few daintier, ornamental trees at some point.

Maybe one where the front walkway meets the driveway and another at the far right corner of the house for balance.

The tree removal and stump/root grinding cost us $4,200.  Ouch.  But it had to be done and it had to be done by professionals.  We were able to save $600 by giving the cut wood to a neighbor who has a wood burning fireplace instead of having it hauled away.  So getting rid of the trees wasn’t all that bad.  At least someone else is able to use the wood.

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

37 Comments

12.May.2011

I think it looks great! Plus, the tree removal will help with the plumbing :-)

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Jinkies – Oh, yes, no old roots to grow into our crazy old pipes.

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12.May.2011

When we moved into our current home, we had a bunch of trees removed. They were blocking our house and some were dying. Our neighbors were needless to say, not very happy. I can’t wait to see what you do to the “underdog”!
Good job!

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12.May.2011

That looks 1,000x’s better!

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12.May.2011

I won’t give you crap for removing trees.

As a person who has 7 cedar and 3 pines in the front yard alone (half of which need to come out) and another mess of trees in the backyard…I LONG for sunlight.

So far in the 5 years I have lived in this house, I have cut down 4 trees and have at least 4 to go. but dang it’s ‘spensive!

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Molly – I hear ya about the $$$! That was quite a sting.

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You guys did what was best for your house. And the trees were pretty dead looking or way to close to the house. You have to think about the safety of the house and who lives in it first. It looks awesome!!!

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12.May.2011

I’ve had the *good* fortune to live in TWO places where the neighbors’ trees fell out of their property and onto ours, in one case onto our house. Once ’cause the tree was mostly dead and couldn’t take the wind, and once because it was too close to their house and the root system was disturbed by some digging for a patio renovation. You’re doing the neighborhood a favor!

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12.May.2011

I agree with Jenny Joy, it already looks great and so inviting.

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12.May.2011

When we moved into our house we got a lot of flack for cutting down two trees in the front. They were both diseased and blocking all the natural light to a portion of the house. I felt super guilty at the time, even with our valid reasons, but it was very worth it when it was done. I say congrats on making the hard choice – I’m sure you’ll be so happy (and safer) with the results!

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12.May.2011

For this same reason, I plan on keeping the trees in my front yard trimmed to a reasonable size, they were not that big yet naturally of they would have had to been cut dwon too, because the old owners did nothing.

It’s a shame you couldn’t have kept a few of the evergreens outfront, they were the nicest looking.

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Jason – It kind of did break my heart to see the evergreens go, too. They were in good shape but positioned all wrong. We would have preferred them along the side of the property…not right in front of the house. We even discussed transplanting them with the tree guys, but they said it would cost us more to move them than to buy new ones PLUS, once transplanted, they weren’t sure how well they’d hold up. So, we made the decision to have them taken out completely.

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12.May.2011

I don’t know why people would give you flack for cutting down trees! They can be very dangerous when they get large and are close to the house. We just had a string of tornadoes come through our area last week and so many people had trees fall on their house. Many were killed by them. You have to keep your family safe.

I love having smaller trees around for looks. The house looks so much better without the huge trees too! You will have so much more sunlight.

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12.May.2011

How are the shutters attached to the house and after removing them could another homeowner hang them? My home has faux shutters and I would like something such as your wood (board and batten I believe) shutters except it appears my windows are taller and I’m in Wisconsin! I bet if they were intact you could sell them or just donate them to a ReStore. Enjoy your progress!

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Valerie – I’m not sure how the shutters are attached but I’m going to find out! I think the pictures actually do them more justice than a real life view. They look to be just painted plywood. The knots in the wood can be seen through the paint as if they weren’t primed properly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are mildewed/rotted on the backsides knowing what we do about the moist environment due to the previously shaded yard.

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12.May.2011

You’d be surprised. Based on the number of trees you had, I would expect more than a few neighbors to be happy. You’ve kept a lot of the more “substantial” trees. You’re also showing that you care about the property, which can mean a lot, and your new neighbors know you’re not going to be hiding from them behind the trees :)

Our neighbor has a tree right on the corner of his house — that also happens to be right next to the property line. Works well with his two-story house, but dwarfs our little Cape Cod. If he ever gets rid of it, I’ll be extremely happy!

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12.May.2011

We upset a lot of our neighbors when we removed to old/huge Modesto Ash trees at our home. We were redoing the drive way and side walks. The roots had destroyed the sidewalk and some plumbing lines. The ironic thing is that in the last wind storm limbs were falling around our neighbor hood and Hubs and the chain saw had to help them out.
Love the Ranch Under Dog! Oh and on a side note. I orderd my flat track from Crown
in SF. Made the trip to pick it up, I live in the Napa Valley. It’s beautiful and worth the $$

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Tracy – So glad you’re happy with your Crown hardware!

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12.May.2011

It looks great! I don’t understand why people plant evergreens like that in small yards. Do they not understand how they will grow? It looks so much better without the “Christmas Trees” in the front yard and you still have a few very mature trees there.

Can’t wait to see the progression.

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12.May.2011

Good Luck I know that you will make your new home beautiful.

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12.May.2011

It looks great. Do you ever watch “Curb Appeal: The Block” on HGTV? One thing I’ve learned from watching that show is that having a path from the street to the front door makes a house so much more welcoming and appealing (even if you live in the kind of neighborhood that no one will ever use it). I can totally see what having a slightly curving path to the street would do for your house (not necessarily concrete, but a DIY starting from the curve in your path that is already there in front of the house). Just a possibility to keep in mind for the future, with planting around it. But it already looks 100x better now that you can actually see the front door.

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Jenny – Great idea! We hadn’t thought of that!

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No slack here for cutting down trees…I just helped a friend cut down a tree last weekend that was really close to her back deck and house…The ground never was dry the tree was ruining her roof and gutters and they think they have some termite damage as well….I think it really opens up your yard to do fabulous things and once you fix up the outside of the house just think of the great curb appeal…Your neighbors will love you then….Maybe they weren’t happy about you cutting down trees cause they didn’t want to look at the “Underdog” either ;-)

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Being able to see the front of the house is always good! And if the trees were dying you did yourself a favor :)

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12.May.2011

It is so much fun reading about how you’re going to transform your little “underdog”. Thanks so much for sharing and it’s amazing the difference tree removals have already made. Good luck with everything.

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12.May.2011

Did you know that the Lily of the Valley is traditionally regarded as bringing luck? My Mum told me years ago that it ‘s a French tradition to give the flowers to a loved one on May Day – regarded as a symbol of spring and good luck. It is said that the flowers were formed from Eve’s tears when she was forced to leave the Garden of Eden. So you and the house are blessed!

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replied on May 12th, 2011

Glennie – I didn’t know that Lily of the Valley was so lucky! If that’s the case, then we’re very fortunate. The backyard is full of it.

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12.May.2011

Wow, what a difference! We trimmed the tree on the home we just bought and pulled out some overgrown bushes that were covering the front windows as well. Well worth the money!

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12.May.2011

I’m always a little sad to see trees go, but sometimes it’s just necessary. Also, lilacs?! So jealous!!!

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12.May.2011

Looks great! The price tag was definitely worth opening up the house! Maybe you will save money on electricity not having to use lights with all of the great sunlight? We actually had 2 trees removed in our front yard after moving into our home. Thankfully they were close enough to power lines that the power company came and removed them for us! Didn’t cost a thing! We still have a few large ones to clean up eventually.

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12.May.2011

What company did you use? $4200 for 7 (?) trees is actually a lot less than I would have expected. We have a dead tree in our front yard that really needs to go…

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12.May.2011

We are planning on have trees removed this summer. Our house has tons in the front yard & the pine cones & needles blow all over our front porch & always end up in the house! Its so annoying! My whole family is just so disturbed by the thought of taking all the “pretty” trees down. They are quite beautiful, but they will not be missed! But whew that is expensive! Im a little worried about the cost now!

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Hi Dana. I discovered your site yesterday and loved it. Came back today and saw your post which made me laugh. We have just taken out over 30 enormous trees around our house – with the use of a bulldozer! I plan to document the process from destruction to beauty (just need a few years for things to grow back). Thanks heaps.

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13.May.2011

Valerie – the shutters are screwed into the mortar joints. Looks like they drilled out the hole and used plastic inserts. I just pulled them down this morning, already on Craigslist ;)

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13.May.2011

Morgan – we used Britts Tree Service out of Waynesville. They were great, highly recommend them.

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13.May.2011

I don’t think you have to “vow” to save the Lily of the Valley. Nothing kills them or gets rid of them. I have been fighting them in our underdog for 7 years and they are still winning!

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13.May.2011

That front door, minus the screen door, is actually pretty great. I’ve been looking at something similar for my own ranch. It’s very mid-century modern and with the right paint could look great. Check out the gallery on http://crestviewdoors.com/

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