The answer to the question previously put... "can this tree be saved?"... is a resounding, echoing, expensive NO. The tree was pronounced by the city and independent arborist types to be afflicted with oak wilt, a date was set for its removal (the deadline was sometime in the fall), and down it came. The stump was ground, a friend took most of the wood to burn as winter fuel, and we were left with a gaping treeless, grassless, dead zone. It was so sad. This was one of the trees that sealed the deal for the lot purchase... the tree that the house placement was shifted for, the tree that we daydreamed about putting a treehouse in one day, and the tree that we named Genevieve. Now comes spring, and we hired a landscaping company to fill in and fix up the area that the tree was in. The above picture and the one below give an idea about how much dirt was needed to grade the spot.
Here they have almost finished grading the back portion of the lot where the tree was removed. Last is to spread the grass seed and cover with straw, and to mulch in the areas next to the house and rock wall, and back by the wooded area. All that's left is the watering. Day in and day out through the hottest days of the summer. We manage ok by attaching two hoses to the faucet in the back and then not moving the sprinklers, just twisting the lever that switches from one hose to the other. The ground is really soft and can't be stepped on without sinking into the dirt like quicksand.
The wooded area looks semi-civilized for the first time since we've been here. I've started adding more plants along the lines of hostas and columbines, etc. After about the middle of June, though, it's hard to work back here because of the mosquitoes. I am drawn to high-maintenance plants that need lots of watering and plucking and whatnot, but the best plants for back here are the ones that need nothing at all. Ever.