We’re planning to put a new roof on the house in October (let me clarify: we’re planning to pay professionals to put on a new roof because hell no would we do that ourselves; we are in no way qualified) and in preparation we have to take care of a few things, namely: replace and repaint carpenter bee-nibbled and water-rotted fascia boards along the roof line, remove the crummy roof from the crummy deck, and fret over gutter colors. (All topics for other posts, naturally.)

It seems we’ve spent a ton of time talking to various contractors about the relatively small amount of light carpentry and demolition work needed to take care of the fascia and deck roof, but every guy we’ve hoped to work with has fallen through and it’s been a frustrating couple of months of not really getting anywhere—we just need some new fascia boards installed and a little demo work done, seriously why will no one do this for us? Sigh… But things are looking up, as we have found yet another guy (this is the third, I think—or maybe the fourth) who says he can help Jamie with the work—and in fact Jamie is right now at the lumber store buying boards—so fingers-crossed that the latest guy comes through.

In the meantime we have managed to cross off ONE item on the pre-roof to-do list: Trees. We called in a couple of tree crews to address a few tree issues, and over the course of a couple of weeks (a few days), they took care of those issues. So we’re getting somewhere…?

poison ivy trees

Issue number one was our poison ivy zombie trees. This had nothing to do with the roof, but it’s a tree issue so I’ve included it here.

We had a number of trees along our driveway (eight or so) that appeared to be lushly-foliaged trees…didn’t think anything of them…but we—I, mostly—kept getting poison ivy rashes and then it was helpfully pointed out to us that those huge leaves were actually poison ivy. Awesome.

poison ivy vines growing off of dead tree

Leaves of three, let it be. Hairy vine, no friend of mine. —Or so they say.

Yeah, that was some really happy Eastern Poison Ivy we had growing along our driveway. I had never seen poison ivy like this before. In my experience poison ivy grew low to the ground and had small leaves. I think it’s pretty common for people to not realize that poison ivy grows in countless different forms, as a vine or a shrub, hairy vine or not hairy vine, different leaf shapes…I know a lot more about identifying poison ivy now than I did at the beginning of the summer. (Want to test your poison ivy ID skillz? Here’s a quiz.)

In the picture above, the poison ivy vine is not terribly big. But other vines—like the one in the foreground of the photo below—were as big around as my neck. Raining urushiol oil down like death showers. So we attacked the vines, cutting out a chunk near their bases and spraying the cut ends with Roundup. I know, I know, Roundup is not even close to being as tree-hugging as it claims, but we really wanted to kill those vines dead.


Once the leaves had all shriveled on the vines it became obvious that the trees playing host to them were in fact dead themselves—we had poison ivy zombie trees! And so we had the trees cut down and chopped up, and the tree roots ground down. And that was that.

fallen trees

Issue number two, also not directly affecting the roof, concerned some fallen trees. We had a number of them lying around the house; the most notable being the monster that had fallen on the shed in the back, partially collapsing the roof. (That happened before we moved in.)



The first of our tree crews swept through, chopping up all the downed tree branches and leaving us with a much clearer “yard” and approximately four cords of firewood.



Tree Crew #2 came through to grind up any large stumps in the ground and clear any large tree branches overhanging the house (more on that in a minute).

The shed-crushing tree’s stump, pre-grinding:


As a bonus, the nice men of Tree Crew #2 took pity on our pitiful shed and cut us a length of [dead] tree trunk which they used to prop up the shed roof. Bobcat and ingenuity to the rescue!



We had thought at one point that we’d rebuild the shed completely, but for now we’re just going to patch the hole in the roof, maybe slap a coat of paint on it… It’s not exactly a beauty queen, but it will be juuuust fine for storing firewood.

Another bonus: with the downed trees gone we realized that we had a drivable path from the road to the shed.


The shed area is looking much better now. It’s not perfect by any means, but still—it no longer looks like it’s been completely abandoned to the wild so we’re feeling good about it. (Everything’s relative.) We’ve also spread a ton of seed all over the property: a “green manure” mix made up mostly of clover, a wildlife forage mix, and creeping red fescue as we attempt to improve our dried-out barren clay soil. The ground is even now covered with delicate little seedlings so I hope that at a later date there will be some impressive “after” photos.

the airspace

Finally, the tree issue that actually needed addressing before we put on the new roof: clearing the air space. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but before we put on our new expensive roof we wanted to remove any branches that hung over the roof (right? duh.)

Basically they sent up a guy in a bucket who tied a rope around the offending branch, cut it down using a chain saw on a pole, then gently lowered the branch to the ground.


By the way, that brown vine in the center is a dead Virginia Creeper. I’m hoping the leaves fall off during the winter…soon…because yeah, it’s an eyesore.

Anyway, the immediately-needed tree work is complete and more roof-prep work is on the schedule, so we’re moving along. I know this is all fascinating. Stay tuned!