When we first moved into our home 13 or so years ago, I set out to make the property as beautiful as possible. After getting rid of all the Greenbriar vines that covered our oaks, a process that took almost one year, I decided to beautify the area around the huge oak in the front yard.

If you are not familiar with Greenbriar, this is what it looks like.

Note the thorns. Getting rid of this vine cost me a lot of blood, sweat and cursing, mostly blood and cursing.

Anyway, I collected a lot of BIG rocks from around the property and built a circular wall around the big oak. This is what it looked like.

The one rock pointed to by the arrow probably weighed 150 pounds or so. Once the wall was built, I let the leaves fall into the area and compost, as well as tossing many, many smaller rocks into the circle.

Then I had an arborist come by to remove some other trees. He saw the wall and asked, in a way as to not be insulting, “Who built that wall?”

I, with some pride, said, “I did.”

The arborist explained that the wall was not a good idea. As the leaves composted, they built a pile of dirt around the trunk of the tree. He told me that piled-up dirt around a tree trunk makes the tree’s bark vulnerable to insects, diseases, burrowing rodents and rot. It can also cause “stem-girdling roots” which destabilizes the tree. Stem girdling roots choke off the flow of water and nutrients between the roots and branches and food produced in the leaves from reaching the roots.

I thanked him for the information and decided to do nothing. Now, however, being stuck at home, my wife suggested that we remove the wall and the piled up dirt.

It was one week of almost back-breaking work. Here is what the tree looks like now.

Here is another view.

So, what happened to all the rocks we removed? They wound up in the back part of our property, the area where I had laid plastic sheeting an mulch. Here is that area now.

Looks pretty good, I think.

By the way, I often joke that the rocks in the Hill Country of Texas are alive and reproduce during the winter. I am more convinced of that than ever.