04 April 2011

Fighting with the trees

Spring is here.
Spent a good portion of my weekend trying to recover the yard. It's my annual futile attempt to bring life back into the yard after a cold, dry winter. I mow, fertilize, spray, trim, rake, water, rebuild beds. But given the bugs, the heat, the drought and two large, highly prolific dogs, I might be more successful if I just paved over the yard (like a co-worker did).

This year I am trying to build up one of the beds with stone so I can replant the Vinca that died out in the last freeze. Almost 1/2 way done.

One of my challenges is with my trees. We set up camp at this house back in 1990 and there were a number of trees already on the lot. Five Arizona Ash in the front/side yard, one plum tree and one live oak in the back yard. Over the years, I've taken out three of the Ash trees and the plum (died due to freeze damage and disease). Replaced the side trees with two live oaks and one Bradford Pear on the side yard. In hindsight, we should have only put in two trees given that the oaks will probably overshadow the pear some day. I used to be an amateur arborist. Loved trees. At one point, I was going to major in Forestry but chose to be an engineer. I love trees, but some I am not a big fan of. Arizona Ash are in that category. They are cheap trees that builders plant at new houses to give the appearance of greenery. The builder planed a ton of them all over the neighborhood when this subdivision was being build back in the 70's. They are very messy trees with nasty habits. Drop leaves 3 times a year (and not just a few leaves). In spring, when they bud out, the drop all their seedlings all over the roof/driveway/yard. They have a bad root system and are prone to cause foundation problems and disease. They are also very "twiggy" and drop twigs all over the place. I typically spend big $$ to have them trimmed every few years, but they thrive on the attention. The two trees I have left are gargantuan and not easy to take out. I had a third mammoth on the side of the house (less than 5 feet from the breakfast room) that we took out 10 years back because it was dying and we were afraid that it might topple over during a high wind/hurricane.

In the back yard there is basically one huge Live Oak. This one has been my favorite, although it is a bit root bound. This is a very mature tree that covers most of the yard and has withstood several storms/hurricanes/bugs/squirrels. This tree stays green/full all winter long but around spring, drops all its leaves. Within about 2 weeks, the tree drops everything and starts sprouting new leaves.  One of the byproducts of this oak are the catkins.  Those are the fuzzy looking fronds that fall off the tree.  Started about three weeks ago and it has been raining catkins ever since.   

The male catkins of post oak release millions of pollen grains when they flower every spring.

Maybe it's the drought, maybe it was the hard freeze back in January, but we are being buried under a ton of these things.  I clear off the back patio only to have it completely covered within a day or two.  And every time the dogs go out, they seem to be covered in this stuff and bring it back in the house with them.  We're having to vacuum twice a day just to keep the floors clear.  On top of the mess, these produce a lot of oak pollen which is driving my hayfever through the roof.  Was up on the roof Sunday trying to blow off the accumulation and had to use a surgical mask just to breath.  These should pass in another week or two, but we really need a good rain and wind to clear the tree out.  A few years back after Hurricane Ike, we had a bumper crop of acorns, but they weren't as annoying as these catkins. 


Rock Chef said...

Our garden only has one tree, a Eucalyptus that constantly drops wonderful smelling leaves and strips of bark. Love it.

At the front we have a row of 8-10 foot tall furs of some sort that need topping this spring - that will be fun!

terri said...

We have a beautiful Maple (Red Maple, I think) and a Flowering Crab Apple tree out front. We also have two ginormous pine trees of some sort. Mark bought them because they were fast growing, but they are just a pain with all the little pine cones they drop that get embedded in the lawn. Makes it difficult for me to run around the yard barefoot!

Hope your allergies clear up soon.

meleah rebeccah said...

Oh yes, my allergies have been CRAZY too. We are getting that same kind of pollen, tree dust, EVERY WHERE. It's a real mess.

"We're having to vacuum twice a day just to keep the floors clear."


Mines not as bad as that. At least not yet!

Robert Wright said...

I had never had allergies before last year. My yard was covered in these things! And now this year, I take a bit more notice to these on my trees around my house. I tell you what, everything was coated like snow here last year with pollen. It was crazy!