We Have a New Patio! Plus Some Tree News

For the last seven years or so, we have not had a patio. The old patio disappeared when we rebuilt an expanded back porch.

Before the patio. Those are paver samples in front of the table. Everything is covered, of course.
Before the patio. Those are paver samples in front of the table. The furniture is covered, of course.

Since then, we’ve been keeping our limited collection of outdoor furniture on the grass. This had several disadvantages.

  • First, heavier members of our family (I mention no names) would find themselves suddenly sinking towards the ground with one or more chair legs if the soil was nice and soft after a rain.
  • Certain other members of our family who are more easily spooked by insects would frequently be bothered by the sensation of something crawling up from the grass onto her leg.
  • I had to rotate the position of the table or the grass underneath would die.

So we hired a contractor to put in a circular patio made of brick-like pavers. I considered trying to build it myself, but I realized I had neither the time, the tools, nor necessarily the know-how. So we went with a contractor, despite the damage to my DIY cred.

The new patio.
The new patio.

This past week the contractor showed up and got the job done in one day. And it’s pretty nice. We’re quite pleased with it.

As a bonus, the flower bed needs to be brought out to the southeast edge of the patio. Which means I can get more plants!

Incidentally, this is an old coal scuttle we found in Wisconsin. I'm using it as a planter by putting a grower's conainer inside.
Incidentally, this is an old coal scuttle we found in Wisconsin. I’m using it as a planter by putting a grower’s container inside. Next year I’ll include more trailing plants to hide the inner container. We also got a blue enamel pot that I’m using the same way.

Plus, the patio provides a context within which buying some White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) does not seem extravagant. White Trillium costs about $12 each if you buy four or more from Prairie Nursery. Without the proper context, this seems like too much. However, if I consider the Trillium as part of the cost of the patio, itย seems like a much less significant expense.

Another look.
Another look.

On a completely different front, the Evanston forestry crew has taken down the dying Maple (species unknown) in the parkway in front of the Left Bank. I knew this was going to happen, as this tree sported just a handful of leaves and was dropping branches. Still, I was taken aback to arrive home one day and find it gone.

We tried counting the ring and this tree seemed to be 20 years old. I think it died from being planted too deep - it had no root flare.
We tried counting the ring and this tree seemed to be 20 years old. I think it died from being planted too deep – it had no root flare.

I was talking to the new neighbors who live west of us, and we all agreed we wouldn’t mind if the City refrained from replacing this tree. First of all, it’s really too close to a street lamp, and blocks much of the lamplight during the warmer seasons.

Also, without a replacement tree this part of the parkway would be quite sunny and a good spot for a garden. I can imagine it full of Prairie Smoke (Geum trifolium), Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata).

Even while dying, our late Maple had its moments, especially in winter.
Even while dying, our late Maple had its moments, especially in winter.

Maybe I’ll write the Evanston Forestry Department and let them know we don’t want a replacement tree. (The parkway belongs to the City, and the City plants the parkway trees.) Their hands are full anyway coping with all the dying Ash trees. At this point there’s up to a two-year delay for new parkway trees.

What would you do?

75 Comments on “We Have a New Patio! Plus Some Tree News

  1. Taking down a tree always leaves a question, replace or not? Seems like you have good reason not to, but is there another spot to plant a tree? We’ve had trees taken down in my block and not replaced. It looks so bare.

  2. I wonder about the street-tree issue, too. For us, a tree would shade almost the entire garden so I’ve resisted planting one. But, then again, if a tree were planted I could maybe start my landscape design at the street and claim that space, visually, for myself. For that scenario to work, I’d need to go with a completely different landscape plan and an entirely different type of garden, but I think it could be worth-it to do at some point.

    • Sunny spots are really at a premium around my house, so I’d really prefer to go without a replacement tree. There are a decent number of trees along the street, mostly big maples.

  3. What a great patio! Sometimes it’s SO worthwhile to hire a professional. And a great excuse for new plants, too!

    I think I would do what you have in mind and write to the Forestry Dept. telling them you and your neighbors are happy not to have a tree there. Can’t hurt.

  4. I love your patio!! Of course, you have to buy the trillium. I just spent my retirement on dwarf lady’s fern because I suddenly realized my shade garden was incomplete without it. Chances are the forestry dept will forget to replace your tree. I love that you want to put euphorbia corollata there. Mine is being moved to a much sunnier spot this week after I tortured it all summer in the shade.

    • I doubt the forestry guys will forget to replace the tree, but it may take them a couple of years. Who needs savings when you have dwarf lady ferns?

  5. Nice patio! And it’s in a lovely, shady location. The Trilliums will be beautiful there. Regarding the Maple tree–it sounds like you have the right idea. Sad to see a tree go, but it was time.

  6. It’s certainly worth a try writing to the powers that be. I do think it nice that the general policy is to replace lost trees though. Love the patio! I can see all sorts of beautiful container plants around it next summer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I just love the reasoning behind the purchase of the Trillium – absolutely correct reasoning! The patio is great and you haven’t lost your DIY cred, makes sense that you need time to blend the patio into the garden so constructing it too, would just be too much,Jason. As to the tree, If you can plant the border how you wish I’d say write and ask them not to replace but if they have to, it should be sited away from the street light.

  8. We have Lime trees ( tilia ) on our front pavement and they could be up to 100 years old. They are enormous, the council come around every few years and trim them back but hardly ever taking the tops down. So you can imagine how little light I get in my front windows. One had to be taken out about 5 years ago and what do you think they replanted with… Yes you’re right a sapling Lime. These are woodland trees not pavement trees …. I despair……Enjoy your sun / day light while you have it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    By the way I love the new patio….I can see lush planting coming your way….:-)

    • Here it’s always maples. There are way too many maples planted as street trees, though lately our city has been trying to plant more of a variety of trees.

  9. Love your embrace of native plants for the sunny parkway. Some other good companions for the ones you chose are Shooting Star (Dodecatheon media), Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), Prairie Alum Root (Heuchera richardsonii), Silky Aster (Symphyotrichun sericeum) and, of course, one can never have too many Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis).

  10. Nice patio. What a good idea including the price of the Trilliums in the price of the patio. You could even say to yourself that the trilliums are free. So you can buy lots. An expensive patio, but never mind, you get free trilliums.

  11. The patio looks great. What a nice place so sit and enjoy the garden. Trilliums are so beautiful, so of course you have to buy some ๐Ÿ™‚ They are also on my wish list. A little pricey… I would also prefer not to have a new tree planted. I would rather have more sunlight.

  12. The new patio looks wonderful, and the planting opportunities! I wonder if you could suggest a smaller tree? Removing the stump will create a lot of soil disturbance before they could consider replanting and the proximity to the lamppost would create problems will removal. You have created such wonderful parkway borders they would be crazy not to take your views on board.

    • The City has a list of approved trees for parkways. There are some smaller trees, but they are approved only for under wires. For street trees it seems you can only have a full size shade tree or nothing.

  13. It never hurts to give your opinion – they either listen or ignore but you feel better for having said your piece. I absolutely love the new patio – beautiful. And, of course, it is an opportunity to fill in with plants. LOL

  14. More sun would be the thing. A tree shouldnl’t be righ beside a lamp anyway. The lamp can be the focal point then or you can completely ignore it. Your new patio is fabulous. I know you will use it a lot. It will be fun to sit there and admire your garden while planning all the changes this will no doubt bring.

  15. First, new patio is wonderful! I’d put a lantern on the table and stay outside for hours! Into the evening – which comes too soon! I would plant a small tree, like a stewartia or dogwood, but I’m guessing the govt doesn’t go for that!

  16. Doesn’t hurt to ask them not to plant another tree. The worst that can happen is they say No, and if they do, you may be able to select what you want – maybe something smaller? Love the patio. Work on my new deck started today. Very noisy.

    • They do send a list in advance that you can pick from – that’s how I ended up with a hackberry at the other end of the parkway.

  17. Congratulations on your new patio. It’s wonderful what changes in the garden (new patio, cut down tree) can do for our motivation, dreams, plans. Will look forward to the new.

  18. The patio is perfect and actually frames the plants behind it. They did a great job. I agree with the others that maybe you could request a shrub or small tree that would still allow light to enter. Replacing trees can be important to moderate heat island effects in cities but the tree doesn’t have to be massive.

  19. The contractor did an excellent job on your patio. I always hire people out nowadays for stuff like that. I tried doing it when I was young and unbroken-down, but it always looked like crap, despite my youth and enthusiasm. Now I’m too old for that kind of fiddling around.

  20. Great patio and I bet you’ll wonder why you didnt do it earler. As to the tree, I would say, keep quiet, they will probably forget.

    • Well, one reason we didn’t do it earlier was it was difficult to find a contractor I trusted. As for the tree, you may be right.

  21. When considering a tree for an area my first thought goes to evaluating existing trees in the general vicinity. There is no doubt they affect your property even though they might be in the neighbor’s yard. They frame the streetscape and provide an enjoyable entry to your home. Are they quality trees? What condition are they? Are there any saplings nearby that will grow to have shade impact in the future?

    The street lamp by itself is lovely, especially in a bed of Prairie Dropseed!

  22. Great idea to build the cost of plants in with the patio, which is great by the way, I’ll be keeping that in mind, next time I need to justify an expensive spend.
    If it were me, I’d be writing to the landowners asking them to refrain from planting, on the grounds that it will save them time and a few dollars. I think the saving of dollars is important – or it would be if it were our local council!

  23. Well done on getting the patio done. I hope you have time to sit down and enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚ And no one ever needs an excuse to buy trilliums ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I’m not much for trees, but along a road I would give in. I think of all that sunshine wasted on the asphalt instead of hitting a nice green leaf. Anything different from a maple would be a pleasure, a nice legacy planting of an oak would be ideal…. but you would eventually have to say goodbye to any front yard sunlight!
    Love the patio.

  25. The patio is beautiful and you must be pleased it was all done in one day. I know about chairs sinking in the ground – even more embarrassing when it happens to visitors! You will be pleased not to have to worry about that.

  26. I like that patio. He did a good job-that’s a lot of work cutting all of those bricks.
    If the tree doesn’t please anyone who lives near it then there’s no real point to having one. The only thing I wonder is, does a tree in that spot shade your house in summer and keep it cooler? I had to have a dying hemlock removed from the sunny side of the house and the difference in how hot the house gets in the summer now is really noticeable.

  27. I’d leave out the tree if you don’t need it but maybe they can replace it with a native shrub of your choosing to go with the garden you are thinking about…and I love the new patio and thoughts of a new garden area….

  28. I love the new patio, it really looks great and that coal scuttle is lovely, so unique!
    I think it would be best not to replace the tree, as you say it is really close to the lamp, flowers would be good. I like the snow pic you have of it.xxx

  29. Hello Jason, the new patio looks very smart, certainly much more polished, refined and level than ours, which is a grimy, loose, uneven exercise in how to break and ankle each time you walk over it. If there is such a long wait for a new tree to be planted I would probably just ask to plant it myself and choose something perhaps a bit unusual.

  30. Just saw this! Love the lovely, little, patio! Such a great spot to relax and enjoy the garden and outdoors. Also love your “logic” to justify the trillium – I would so do that! I would just wait and see what the city does regarding the tree. Sounds like they are the ones in control even if they are a bit slow…

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