My house came with an apple tree in the backyard. It was one of the things I liked about the house.
During my housewarming party my grandma told me that my plum tree was nearly full of ripe fruit. My plum tree? I didn't even know I had a plum tree! It was planted on the side of the house where I never went because the gate was on the other side.
Over time, the house became a home. In doing so it collected more and more occupants. In 2003 it was just me and my two cats. In 2005, Gene joined the ranks. Then in 2008 we got 4 chickens, and 8 more in 2009. 2010 saw the addition of a dog and 2011 closed with a new addition taking up residence in the former office. In the fall of 2012 we welcome a German teenager into our home for a few months and our hearts forever.
The yard also changed quite a bit during those same years. It had been a rental to 3 young men in their early 20s prior to becoming mine. I sifted out the gravel from the former RV parking space, threw away countless shot-gunned beer cans and cigarette butts found in the garden, put up a new cedar fence, built a chicken coop, replaced it with a larger coop, pulled out an ill-conceived raised bed, installed other raised beds, took out grass, planted grass, tested vegetable gardens in different places around the property, planted 3 more fruit trees (crab apple, dwarf apple, and dwarf pear), and witnessed the complete desecration of my backyard by the voracious, digging chickens.
A couple of summers ago Gene and I put up a new chicken run in what we now know was a vain attempt at corralling the birds and still having an attractive yard. Keeping the area inside of the run nice was a constant struggle. I roto-tilled and leveled the ground, then replanted it with grass. It was a Herculean effort. Twelve months later there was not a blade of grass to be seen, the ground was riddled with chicken-sized holes, and Rosemary still didn't have enough space to stretch her stubby legs.
In our household hierarchy, Rosemary and Kaelen take priority over the hens, despite the girls' (ever-decreasing) production of lovely eggs for our dining pleasure. Something had to go so that the baby and dog could enjoy our backyard with a lawn, not a mud pit.
First to go were the old apple and plum trees. The apple tree didn't produce good apples and the plum tree's location was, well, stupid. I now suspect that it was planted by a critter rather than a person.
In deciding to get rid of the trees - a difficult decision - I realized that I have a significant deficiency of knowledge when it comes to trees: I simply don't know how to prune them to maintain their health and productivity.
The city had free pruning classes. I signed up and learned... nothing. What a waste of time.
The grass is now beautiful and lush, thanks to a couple of years of chicken poop. We neither water nor fertilize the grass anywhere on our lot.
Am I happier? Yes, oh yes, oh yes.
This fall I want to put in more grass in the front yard. I just can't handle the neglected, overgrown flower beds any longer. Since we hope to move in a couple of years, it's time to start projects like this so that we're not overwhelmed by them when it comes time to put the house on the market.