Monday, April 28, 2008

Tree Poop

We thought we'd sorted out our trees but they just don't want to cooperate. While making plans to have our fence built we found out the birch tree in our back yard is in the way of a retaining wall we now need.

It's the battle of conflicting city bylaws. One bylaw says new house foundations must be 9 or so inches above the crown of the road, (no I'm not going to check the exact figure right now). That means our lot will be higher than our neighbours'. Which brings us to the next bylaw: we'll need a retaining wall along the fence-line, complete with a water-proof lining to keep any rain that falls on our yard from flowing down into our neighbours' yards. Only one problem, there's a tree in the way. This is where any number of tree-protection bylaws kick in. Nope, no way you're building a retaining wall across that poor tree's roots.

Which leaves us with two options, both of them time-consuming and expensive. (Naturally)
Option #1. Remove the tree.
We really did want to keep that tree, and not just because it blocks the neighbour's view into our bedroom. We like trees. We even wanted to keep our weeping willow until the city arbourist pointed out that it was a liability, just waiting for the right moment to yell "timber". I think the only reason it was still standing was because it couldn't decide which of the surrounding houses would make the softest landing. We believed the arbourist, as Mr Willow had already thrown one of his huge limbs onto the ground about eight years ago, leaving huge craters in our lawn & taking out our clothesline. He must like children because he did it on the one sunny summer day that our yard wasn't swarming with small children. That was the summer of "Grandma Underpants' Daycare-E-O". (hmmm, will have to blog THAT story here soon... because what is the point of having a blog if you don't use it to embarrass your Mother?)

Option #2. Build a wall around it.
Right, have the retaining wall go around the tree, into our yard. It would have to follow the drip-line of the tree and we know from experience that, according to the city's tree-protectors, the drip-line is determined, not by the crown of the tree like we always thought, but... see that looong, skinny twig that's sticking waay out of the tree's crown, the one that looks like it's about to break off any second? THAT's what determines the perimeter of the drip line, which then determines how big a chunk of our backyard the tree well will take up.

Kim set out to find out what it would take to be allowed to cut down the tree.

While I lay in bed, sick, thinking about our tree conundrum.
I thought that, since I really didn't want to see the birch tree go, we'd have to look at this "giant tree well in our back-yard" from a different perspective. What if we tried viewing it as a positive feature instead of a landscaping disaster? I started brainstorming some ideas (I know, you usually need at least two brains to do any storming but I guess I'm enough of a split personality that I can (sort of) pull it off. Can hold some pretty heated arguments with myself too.)
I came up with a couple of interesting ideas and phoned Kim to describe one concept to him in great detail. "Can you see it?" He said that NO, he couldn't but it was a good thing I was trying to put a positive spin on having 1/3 of our yard taken up with a tree well because he'd just heard back that the only way we would be allowed to cut down the tree was if it was certified by an arbourist to be a hazard. Not likely, considering it was surveyed only months ago and found to be in fine health.

So, the fence and retaining wall start to go up on Wednesday, complete with an "interesting landscaping feature".

News Flash - Finally got our plans back from the engineer ( only 10 days later than he'd promised) and they are now FILED with City Hall! Fingers crossed that they get approved with no hiccups.
Back to "waiting patiently" mode, again. OOOHHHHMMMM.

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