Our past several updates might lead you to believe that we chained ourselves to the kitchen for the past couple months. While most of our time and energy has been spent inside, we also took advantage of the relatively mild weather to get a jump start on the yard. We're fairly certain that it will be a few years before our yard is to a point where we are satisfied with its appearance. Our house is on almost an acre of land and is surrounded by a lot of old trees, vines, briars, and other poorly maintained growth. Getting rid of all the dead and unwanted growth is extremely time consuming but we're chipping away at it. We had our land professionally surveyed so we know exactly where our property boundaries are - and know what we need permission to remove!
We knew that a large pine in our back yard needed to come down when we moved in a year ago. It isn't ours but would cause major damage to our property if and when it ever falls. Despite it being on our neighbor's property, we don't expect them to volunteer the funds to remove. We're willing to eat the costs of removing this tree now as opposed to pay for the damage it might cause in the future. (We haven't had a chance to discuss with them yet so we're still keeping our fingers crossed that we catch them on a good day and find they are willing to remove for us!) We spent several days last year tearing out the briars that surrounded and wrapped around this tree last year and discovered that it's almost completely hollow - and is very likely to fall on our house with a nice gust of wind.
We're not even sure our neighbor knows this piece of land is his property. It appears to have been a dumping ground for yard waste for years. Once we get permission, we will have this tree removed and proceed with clearing out the growth on our side of the property line. Our goal to is clear anything off our property and erect a fence that will shield our eyes from all of this ugliness. We also hope to remove the briars from the side of our yard and replace with some more desirable shrubs - for privacy, aesthetics, to give more space for us to run around, and to eliminate the need to pluck thorns out of our skin should we run too closely to this side of our property.
There's also a huge cherry tree right outside of our front door. It's not completely dead but it's also not the healthiest looking thing. We'll probably have this tree removed as well because it offers nothing in terms of privacy, it interrupts the flow of the yard, and it would cause severe damage to the main part of our house if any limbs broke off. It also blocks sun from reaching the roof and front of the house - allowing snow to build up in winter months and prevents the roof from fully drying after rain (which then leads to mold and a whole other list of issues!).
And here are a few sketches because I'm a visual person and I have to see the whole picture in order to understand each of its parts: