Friday, May 11, 2012

The Front Yard aka The Disaster Zone

“We’ll start at the top and go down.”
“But they’re 70 feet high,” I said.
“We’ll use spikes.”
I shook my head.  “No one’s nailing my stuff.” 

I was speaking to the third tree specialist of the week to get a quote to trim our yard’s overgrown palm trees.  Trimming palms is one of the most expensive and dangerous jobs in a California garden; dangerous for the trimmer and the tree.  Traditionally tree maintenance companies employ men who wear a harness and spiked shoes to literally scale up and down the tree using machetes to cut off the brown skirt of dead palm leaves or “fronds”.  The shoe spikes puncture the trunk to give the trimmer a foothold on the tree.  Unfortunately even with the harness the spiked shoes system is not foolproof for the man and accidents have happened.

Neither are spikes ideal for the tree.  Once a palm trunk is punctured by a spiked shoe, it never heals. The hole remains and every time spiked shoes are used to climb the tree, more holes are created making the tree look like it has a case of reverse chicken pox or worse, horrible acne scars.  Several years ago Los Angeles officials noticed palm trees citywide were dying en masse.  Eventually they traced the high arboreal death rate to several factors including spiked shoes.  Spikes that had been used to trim a diseased tree were then used on healthy palms, which spread the infection.  

That night over dinner I explained my palm findings to Mr. Wonderful. 

“It sounds expensive,” he said sliding into a chair.
“Safety is more important than money.  And it seems safer for everyone not to use spikes to trim our 11 palms.” 
“But then how do they trim a 70 foot palm tree?”
“With a bucket truck,” I said.  “Which they’ll drive onto the front yard.”
“What about our lawn?”
“It’s just for a couple hours,” I said handing him a plate of hot pasta. 
“Two hours?”
“Uh, ten.”
"That'll ruin it--" I set a bowl of steaming hot pasta on the table.  He turned his attention back to the palms.  "We're going to have to reseed the whole lawn--" I set a bowl of shrimp and lemon pasta sauce next to his plate and dished him up a helping.  "It'll be..."  I grabbed a wedge of hard Parmesan-Reggiano.
"Grated cheese?"
He nodded.  His palm tree questioning would have continued but he was hungry and he loves my shrimp and lemon pasta.  
"Delicious," he said spinning the pasta around his fork.  "So… what were we talking about?"

Unlike the palm trees, the way to work with Mr. Wonderful was to start with his belly and go up to his heart and head.