Sunday, May 8, 2022

East Texas Yard Updates

Hi, My Friends,
Happy Mother's Day. 
How are you? I hope you are doing well.

I thought I'd share an update and some pictures from our East Texas weekend house. Did you notice the Texas flag? That is a new one. 
One of the questions I asked on the day of the showing was. "What is the deal with this soil?" 
I didn't get a good answer. The soil here is very sandy. It's called sugar sand by our next door neighbor because it sticks to everything. We've been better about tracking it into the house. We have indoor and outdoor shoes. The soil here is a deep layer of light colored sand over a clay subsoil. Grass will mitigate the effects of the sand and that is our focus this growing season. 
We have fertilized. It's the rainy season so right now we are getting enough rain but we will water in some of the areas closest to the house when the heat of summer arrives. Here are some before and after shots. 

The previous owners allowed cars to drive up to the front door. The position of the wall blocks seemed to invite guests into a circle around the big tree next to the driveway. 
Bill was opposed to that and quickly put a stop to it. My suggestion was that by moving the blocks it would make the circle less pronounced and therefore there would be less of an invitation to drive right up to the door. 
I moved the wall block border back in February. The image below was taken this morning, May 8th. 

Now the tree bed relates to the bed that lines the front porch. 
That bed around the tree won't be watered so we are filling it with cacti and succulents. Some cacti was already there. 

The rocks that previously surrounded the tree now offer a welcoming entrance to the paths we created through the woods. 

Here is the driveway now. It's filling in nicely after fertilizer and a few plugs transplanted from the raised bed area. Bill was not wild about the wall blocks used as a border but borders are necessary for keeping the sand away from the entryways. We turned the red scalloped edging blocks upside down for a cleaner look. Again, these are so needed to keep the sand at bay. 

We've opted for no edging around the tree with the antique wheel barrow. 
This is the daffodil bed. Once that greenery has died back, Bill can easily mow around this tree. 
Hopefully, we get a little more grass there. 
Our only plants besides the daffs are low growing juniper. These aren't my favorite but Bill loves them. 
I have so much say around here that it's nice when he inserts a strong opinion. These do not need a lot of supplemental watering. 

The bed on the way to the carport is my current problem. It's full of liriope and day lilies but little oak suckers are everywhere. I'm afraid I need to dig everything up and start over. 

We have two severely damaged oak trees after the 2021 winter storm named Uri. 
Texas A&M suggested waiting a year to see how they would leaf out in 2022. 
When I look back on images between 2021 and 2022, I don't see much improvement. 

May of 2021

Oak tree after winter storm Uri

The lower canopy is much more full. The upper canopy has changed very little. 

May of 2022

Oak tree damage from Uri

We have another one in worse shape than this. A tree man is supposed to come by and have a look to give us an opinion. The concern is dead limbs falling from the trees. A Texas child was severely injured last fall due to a limb that was damaged during Uri. We had a mild winter in 2021 so the sap had already begun flowing to the limbs in order to produce leaves. That sap froze which is what has caused the damage. 
Both of these trees are near power lines so I don't want Bill to trim or take these down. 

Our pine trees are dying at an alarming rate. The canopies turned a rust color after the winter storm but they seemed to rebound and new growth appeared. They can look okay one week and then the next, the canopy is rusty again. Eventually, the tree is dead enough that it falls over. 

According to Texas A&M, the trees were already stressed due to a species of Pine Bark Beetle. 10 days of abnormal freezing temperatures finally did them in. 
Will we lose all of our pines? I don't know. It depends on their stress level before the freeze. If you have been following, you know that the goal was to live in the Piney Woods. Many of the these pines were not native and were propagated by loggers. They were fast growing pines perfect for logging but they are less resistant to disease and intruders. Bill has taken down two of these giant pines. One was in the path of our camper. The other one was in the big back yard. 
 I was nervous about this but he studied what to do and he practiced on smaller trees. 
He made the cuts and the trees fell perfectly. My heart was beating like crazy. 

As the canopies of the pines fall off, I can see more light filtering in the woods which means we will have more natives growing back underneath.  
Right now we are leaving what falls as long as it's not in the path. 

If they annoy me visually, Bill pulls them to "Yucca Circle" to line the path. Cactus and yuccas seem like strange plants to have in this area of the country. We are on the edge of the Post Oak Savannah which might explain it. I'm not sure if they are native or were introduced but that is the reason for the nickname. 

I feel strongly that we will have enough pine logs to line the path in this circle. 

Our neighbor came to dig up the old septic systems and to retrieve the lid to our old septic tank. He then filled in the holes. Hopefully, the grass will fill in quickly. 

The blocks surrounding the old septic were moved to create our fire pit. 

Bill strung some outdoor lights for us. 

We brought out our table and chair set from home so that we don't have to drag chairs down to the pit every time we light a fire. 

These changes are monumental because it officially means that all the eyesores are gone. 

The crumbling path, the dying pear tree, the propane tank and the spirea right out the back door, the exposed sewer hook up for a camper, the old blue septic barrels, the metal stacked on the other old septic, the ugly tan out building. 
This has been a slow process but it's such a great milestone. 

That is all for now. 
Thank you so much for stopping by. 

Click the link to our country house page for more stories and updates. 


  1. Such a wonderful retreat. I know you both enjoy spending time there. It's all looking good! Hope you had a great Mother's Day.

  2. You both have accomplished so much in a short amount of time. The place looks great! Having a house in the country is constant work. I know because I have lived on 5 acres in the country for 37 years but I would not change it for a house in a neighborhood for a billion dollars. Enjoy every minute. Have a great weekend!