Exterior Reno: Take Out ALLLL the Palm Trees!

So as we were finishing up the roof, our good friends and neighbors were doing some landscaping. We were over at their house one day as the owner of the landscaping company was there, got to chatting, and before you know it, he was at our house giving us a quote. And two months later, our landscaping was done!

In hindsight, I wish we would have talked to a few more people, because while our finished result was great, I felt that communication along the way wasn’t ideal. But that’s neither here nor there, and I’m sure there are hiccups with every contractor. But learn from us, get more than one quote. Anyway, I always think that the landscaping made the biggest difference, but then again, I can say that about every single step. Like, I just don’t think that we could have done one thing without the others and been happy with the result until it was all done. But the landscaping I was downright tickled with. We got rid of ALL THE DANG PALM TREES!

I think the only people who like palm trees and oleanders are landscape crews, because it ensures continual maintenance!

I know we live in the desert and that palm trees are just a part of that reality, and honestly, in certain areas I think they are perfectly delightful. My yard is not one of those areas. We live in a citrus grove, something I am insanely in love with, and I wanted palm trees to have no part in my landscaping. Not only are they not aesthetically pleasing to me, but they are such a pain to take care of. The taller ones need to be trimmed every year, otherwise they drop seeds and white dusty pollen all over your yard and flower beds and in your pool. But you can’t trim them until after they have already started to drop their nonsense messiness, because if you trim too early, you won’t get all of the shedding branches and you’ll have a mess a months later. It is seriously the worst. Not only that, but the tall ones are too tall for us to trim on our own, so we were paying on average about $50 per tree every single year they were trimmed. So it made sense to remove them and be done with it. The smaller palm trees grow in clusters, and they are forever trying to sprout up new trees, so a group of three turns into a group of five overnight. Those were easy enough to trim myself, but again, I just don’t love the look of them and it was one more thing for me to have to keep up on. So nope, I don’t mind if they come out either.

When we bought the house (pictured above), between our front and back yard, we had two very tall palm trees, seven medium ones, seven clusters of small ones, and one stubby “decorative” one. We trimmed them all for a couple of years, and then quickly grew tired of either doing or paying for that maintenance, so we started to remove them. And let me tell you, seeing the first come down gave me a taste for something I couldn’t get enough of. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed NOT having them! So we just kept going. We found that all it really takes to remove some of the smaller ones is a chainsaw and a dangerous amount of self confidence, both of which I have. 🙂 TIMBER, baby, timber.

Don’t worry, the instructions for the chainsaw said that flip flops were the recommended shoe of choice for safety purposes.

Over the course of about five years, we were chipping away at them. Some of the medium sized ones that were dying, we cut down ourselves. The small ones in our front planter I did on a whim one afternoon, then pulled out all of the rose bushes shortly after. We had some by the pool that we took out, and the biggest ones we removed with the help of our friend’s tree trimming business. He was kind enough to send one of his employees to us who was doing side jobs, so we had a less expensive but very experienced professional on our hands. We also would coordinate the removal of the big trees with the city Clean Sweep dumpsters so that we (meaning Philip and his muscles) could throw the giant chunks of stumps in there and not pay for disposal fees.

I swear that grass grew better in that dang gravel than it did in our actual lawn, and I was OVER IT.

So by the time we were ready to hire landscapers, most of the palms had already cut down, but we got rid of the ones that flanked the driveway, the decorative one that was by our front entry, and then ground down the stumps where pavers would be going. Honestly, it is probably the best decision I’ve ever made. Such a huuuuuuge difference and there is not a single day that I have missed them in the least bit! If you’ve been wondering if you should remove yours, I’m going to venture to say a resounding YES.

Once done with the trees, we tore out the existing shrubs and planters, removed all gravel, knocked down the small wall in front of the shrubs and front window and leveled out that planter and poured concrete to extend our driveway. We put in pavers along the side of the driveway, filled in the patio area, and made a walkway to the backyard. And then the path lights, you can’t forget those dreamy little things. We were also going to put spot lights on our citrus trees in the yard, but since we get flood irrigation, I just wasn’t convinced that everything buried underground would hold up to being submerged in water every couple weeks, despite the fact that they said they were “waterproof.” In the end, I ordered solar ones from Amazon that I was super happy with that I will link in a future post with all of our products.

We also had to redo some drip lines to the front planter and move some sprinkler boxes, all of which are always kind of a bummer ways to spend money, but it needs to get done.

The last thing that we needed to do was plant things. Now this is where I really SHINE. And if I don’t shine, I at least sparkle a little bit. 🙂 We wanted a line of shrubs in our front planter and for it to extend across in front of our big window. Our landscaper had suggested a Japanese Boxwood, which are darling little shrubs, but guess what, I had already tried them the year before. However, since that area gets direct sunlight during the summer, those poor little plants cooked. They were watered well, covered with sweet potato vines for a month or so of it, but in the fall when I pulled out the dying sweet potato vines, 10 of the 12 Boxwoods came out with them. They were crunchy and toasty and there is no way I could have resurrected them enough to keep them looking nice. So after he recommended those to me, my thought was, “I am just as capable of figuring this out as he is and I have more of a desire for it to succeed, so I’m doing it myself.” Not to mention that we still had many more months of windows, stucco and painting to go. Planting was something that just was going to have to wait. (And boy do I have things to say about PLANTS!!! That post will come another day.)

It was a little bit ironic that when the landscapers finished, they technically provided us with zero actual landscape, but instead, all sorts of lovely hardscape. We were so happy to be done with gravel areas that were forever filling up with weeds and grass, oleander bushes that would never look good pruned, and palm trees that well, were palm trees. 🙂

Next up was the paint! Wait, but do you love this stucco…?

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