Back in '96 when I knew next to nothing about landscaping, my husband and I planted a tree. We had just moved to Eden Prairie from Minneapolis, and we missed the giant stately elms of our old neighborhood. Our new suburban yard had no trees at all, so we were eager to get some shade growing.


We made two huge mistakes. We picked the wrong tree, and we put it in the wrong spot. 

We had wanted a maple, for fall color, so we went to the garden center and bought a healthy-looking little sapling. I didn't read the tag too carefully. It was definitely a maple, and there was a picture of a red leaf, so that was good enough.

But it wasn't. Instead of a tree, with a tall trunk and a leaf canopy, ours is some kind of dwarf species that has turned into a giant bushball with branches low to the ground. The only way to enjoy its shade is by lying down. Our dog likes it. I loathe it.

The spot we chose was an even bigger blunder. We had a 3-foot circle of dead grass where the kids' wading pool had sat for a month, so we started digging there. It was only about 10 feet from the house but we figured it would eventually provide shade for the deck. 

Bad move. The dense ball of foliage has turned our back patio into a damp, black hole. And my garden, which once got full sun, now has a completely shaded half and a scorched half. I've lost three peonies and two climbing roses in the shady hemisphere. And creating a unified look for those two radically different halves is a major challenge.

"Don't make mistakes with trees," a wise gardener told me in 2008. You can experiment with shrubs and perennials. Trees are forever, and undoing mistakes takes a lot of time and money.

Anyone else out there ever make a big landscape mistake? How did you correct it -- or live with it?