One of the things that sold us on the Mortroski Midcentury was its age. Built in 1966, it had the openness and period details (wet bar, exposed brick fireplace) that we were looking for. We would have preferred a truly untouched, un-updated home, but we didn’t find one that fit that bill during our search.
What we did find here is something we couldn’t add: big trees. As you might remember from one of my earlier posts, these beautiful old trees can cause plumbing problems. They also provide something that is very valuable in north Texas in the summer: shade.
In our backyard, we are fortunate to have a stately live oak tree. We do not know its age but its trunk is bigger around than my arms can reach. It is the reason the Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm is in the far right strip of the yard since its branches shade the majority of the space. It is a home to squirrels and a producer of huge amounts of acorns.
The acorns are particularly problematic. A source of extra calories for George and his squirrel pals, the reason we can’t walk barefoot on our patio without getting out a broom or the leaf blower, and apparently a desirable commodity for hunters who use them at their deer leases (the black garbage bags we fill are frequently taken from our monthly yard waste pickup deposits), the acorns just keep on coming down. Usually they start falling in October, peaking in late November or December, but depending upon the weather, they can continue falling through spring.
But even though it was producing a bumper crop of acorns, we were worried about the tree. Neither Bruce nor I knew much about live oaks. There were some soft spots low on the trunk. There was a large spot that looked like the inside of the tree was being exposed. And a large branch was over our roof, just above the chimney so we were concerned about having a fire in our fireplace. Still, it was green and leafy and there were no visible signs of death. Its branches were majestic and full of leaves (and acorns).
Neighbors and friends speculated about the tree. Some gave us names of local landscapers who could take it down for cheap. Others suggested what we could do with the yard if we removed it. Things like pools, outdoor kitchens, an extended patio were mentioned. A few mentioned how sad it would be if it was gone.
We needed a professional opinion. We got the name of a reputable arborist from the company that helped us to revitalize our overgrown front yard so we’d know for certain what was wrong with the tree and if it was so ill that it needed to go. My heart sunk as I steeled myself against the bad news.
Well, the tree did not let me down. Yes, it needs some professional help. Most likely it has never been correctly pruned. It needs some cabling since it has been hit by lightning several times and it has a bit of weakness. It is crowding the magnolia tree. But it does not need to go.
The arborist and his crew will visit the tree next Monday. They’ll lighten up some of its branches. They’ll put the cabling in place. They’ll do what needs to be done. And they’ll let the tree continue to keep shading our house and providing acorns for George and the squirrels.