I think the only time we’ve shared the exterior of our Tree House was on the same day we announced the fun news that we closed on the sweetest, tiniest, littlest lake house in Michigan. Fun fact: Tree House almost didn’t even come to be, because Scott and I could not get over the main exterior image in the listing. But after looking at dozens of other homes with our realtor, we kept saying, no, no, there’s nothing special to see here. She was patient with us, but she kept asking, what is special to you?
We were still bummed after losing out on a different home to an all cash offer – a home with a skylight, nooks and crannies for built-in bunks and an adorable vintage kitchen (we still think about that house, and sometimes we even drive past it; true story) – and although our realtor had suggested we look at Tree House before, she began insisting. It has that something you’re looking for. I promise. We agreed, if only to take it off the list, because we told her, that house is so, so ugly!
We laugh about it now, because that initial walk through lasted for well over an hour, and we were putting in our offer the next day. All this to say, never judge a book by its cover, right? And if you’re wondering if we’re being too hard on Tree House, well, maybe we are, but to this day, we can’t help but cringe – just a bit! – when we pull up to this:
I mean, it’s fine, but it could be much, much better.
The photo above was taken shortly after we closed, when there was still green grass and leaves on the trees. Our Little Lake House That Could was lovingly dubbed Tree House for, obviously, the trees that surround it. The tan vinyl siding is in decent shape, but the chocolate painted trim is peeling, the gutters are constantly growing saplings, and all the what-we-think-were-garden-beds are overgrown with itchy weeds. And at some point in Tree House’s history, our master bedroom was an addition onto the front of the home, which is why you’re always seeing those cute French doors that lead into the room itself. But as a result, a true front door was eliminated, and now, our “front” door is actually on the side of the house:
There are a lot of things wrong with the exterior, and we’re constantly daydreaming about the day we choose a new color for the siding, paint the trim and, maybe – probably! – extend the porch and add a half-circle driveway. We have plans! Lots of plans! But if we’re being honest, we are having the toughest time actually envisioning the outside of our Tree House for what she is. There’s too much exterior clutter. Today, finally, we’ll give you a proper tour. (Plus, we need your help! More on that in a minute.)
When we imagine the future landscape, quite literally, for Tree House, we think we see rows of beautifully lined, tall and skinny evergreens to hide the street. Maybe we’ll have those same evergreens in the backyard, too. But right now, all we see are massive, overgrown, wide yew bushes (trees?). Eight of them! They’re twice the height of little ol’ me, and they easily take over half of our backyard. Here’s the view from our so-called front door:
We walked through our yard with three different local landscape companies and arborists, and every one of them agreed that the yews were doing us no good. We aren’t super familiar with yews ourselves, but we’ve since learned that almost every part of the tree is poisonous if ingested. Considering we have two dogs that love rustling about the yew branches, it was an easy decision to eliminate them. Because of these overgrown yews, we joke that we can’t see our yard; what yard? And did you know we had a shed? We do!
Here’s a photo of our yard taken from the shed. Yews to our right, and more yews straight ahead! (And just to the right of those yews in the distance, there’s a raised planter bed full of ferns.)
So! The yews are out. Actually, they’re already out, but we haven’t seen them in person yet (we’ll see them this week though!). The company we hired removed the yews last week, including stump removal, so we imagine we’ll pull up to Tree House in a few days and get a great view of … the rotten fence behind them? This is sure to be a prime example of things getting worse before they get better.
But, friends, we need your help! Although this wasn’t initially in the plans, every single pro that walked through our yard with us, unprovoked, told us that we needed to give our extra large maple tree a haircut – like, a chop! Essentially, the maple should have been pruned over the decades, but because it never received the proper care, the limbs grew longer and thinner, with the majority of the growth only budding at the tippy-tops of those branches. Had it been cut back from time to time, the tree would have had more weight lower to the ground, promoting healthier growth while having a more attractive shape, too. Because of the neglect, those looong branches hang precariously over our roof:
We didn’t realize how tall the maple was until this winter! Although it’s not an emergency (somebody knock on wood, quick!), each professional recommended that the tree be trimmed back at least 20′ within the next handful of years for safety reasons – and there’s an asterisk. *It’s not going to look good. For a while. We were sent photos from one of the pros of a recent row of trees where the same job was done, and all I could see where blunt tree tops with no greenery. And what is Tree House without it’s big maple tree?
We’re both terrified, because what if it doesn’t grow back? Also, it’s an expensive job (for good reason), and we couldn’t find friends or family with enough experience to settle our fears. My mind immediately went to this post, where Emily detailed her tragic tree loss at the hands of what she thought was a skilled arborist. On the other hand, what if the professional is right (I mean!), and after a few years, our maple blooms happily and lower, with a nice, healthy weight and renewed sense of vigor?
Help! Does anyone have experience with this?
Although we initially told him to go for it, we got cold feet and backed out. We wanted to talk with you first. Has anyone else encountered this same issue? If so, what did you do? (And do you have pictures?!) Where my arborists at?
In other cute news, there is one tree that’s not going anywhere, and it’s this little guy that’s begging for a rope swing. Someday!
The company we hired to nix the yews will also trim up the boxwoods lining our deck and prepare our yard for the coming season by de-leafing, weeding and mowing. Phew! We were happy to hire this out so that we could put all of our energy into the kitchen renovation, which is still chugging along!