Three Surprising Things I Learned From Home Ownership


Over the last 13 years, I’ve owned two homes. While I’ve been able to manage the day to day home maintenance on the fly or by a quick Google search, here are three issues that left me scratching my head, saying, “What the huh?”


When we bought our first home, I loved the shade the large, old trees provided. I could imagine myself watching them bud in fall, sitting in their shade in summer, and playing in the leaves in fall.

What I failed to recognize is that trees are like the children of your yard: they break, fall, get sick, and need to be cleaned up after. 

Not only were there hours of endless raking, but we had to have some of our trees trimmed, cut down, and even treated for diseases. Here are my three main tips for dealing with trees:

  • Have a Trusted Tree Service. There are all kinds of tree services out there, but it’s always great to have one that has a Certified Arborist. The tree service should be able to do things like identify the trees on your property, assess their health, provide recommendations on trimming, fertilizing, and treatment, and execute any recommended actions. With the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer and the Birch Borer, it’s great to have your trees checked out. Bonus Tip: make sure the company is insured.
  • Do Some Research. Once upon a time, I owned a home with plum trees. Yes, this home was in Wisconsin. It turns out it’s possible to grow this delicious fruit in your very own backyard. Sadly, my fairy-tale did not end well when my plum trees developed Black Knot. Though my plums couldn’t be saved, I did discover the Wisconsin Horticulture website in the process of trying. It’s full of excellent information, and you can even contact them with questions.
  • Contact WE Energies. If you have trees growing too close to power lines, WE Energies may trim or remove them for you at no cost.

Dead Animals

No, the dead animals I’m talking about are not your pet goldfish or hamsters. I’m talking about the raccoon that met an unfortunate fate in my front yard of your home. What is one to do in such a situation?

  • Call Your City. The city should be able to direct you to the proper service, such as the Highway Division or DPW Sanitation. If the dead animal is on your property, you will have to ask the city how they recommend handling it. They may tell you to move it to the curb.

Know the Rules/Ordinances of Your City

This may be a no-brainer for some people, but my husband and I were caught off guard when we received a letter from the city. The letter explained that our garden fence violated an ordinance even though it was there when we moved into our home. A neighbor raised the ordinance issue with the city, and we were forced to take it down.

Our shed had a similar ordinance issue, but thankfully we had the original permit so it could be grandfathered in. Moral of the story, know the ordinances that pertain to your home, especially if you want to make any changes such as putting up a fence, raised garden bed, etc. Also, it’s wise to keep permits.

I’m sure I’ll learn many more lessons in homeownership over the next few decades. If you have any insight you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below. I’d love to hear the things you’ve learned!

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Jaclynn knows a good thing when she sees it, that’s why she and her husband, Dave, decided to raise their son and daughter in Brookfield, the same Milwaukee suburb where they grew up. After earning her English degree from UW-Madison, Jaclynn attended Marquette University Law School and worked for several years at a small Milwaukee firm practicing estate planning and elder law. When her son was born a few year ago, she followed her heart and became a SAHM. She is now the mother of two, having welcomed a daughter last June. When she's not managing her family circus, you can find Jaclynn instructing or taking classes at the Barre Code. Jaclynn would be lost without dessert, family friendly breweries, books, comfy pants, and the moms who have helped her navigate the labyrinth that is ‘momming’.


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