Our garden has a pair of full size Macintosh apple trees that were planted when our house was built in 1954. Unfortunately they were never pruned in the early days to control their shape. So they've grown splayed open with the crotch of the trees collecting water and weakening them. The photo below is from 2010.
The tree in the foreground in the picture above was down to its last limb when we finally cut it down this week. The picture below shows the stump more or less even with the ground and the last chunk of the trunk. The dark spots are rotted sections with openings of various sizes.
The apple trees presided over my original moss garden. When we were initially creating the garden I could not do any planting for the first few years as we created the hardscaping and paths. So I pulled out the grass under these trees exposing the moss growing there. It was a relaxing project and for a long time I enjoyed weeding this area. But now there are too many other chores and this has become a labor intensive area with not enough visual reward for the energy required to maintain it.
After taking down the one apple tree Mark pruned the other to take some weight off the limbs and allow more light through. This area is about to become a temporary holding bed while we do our last big front garden project: replacing the driveway and turning the slope up to the garden into an informal rock garden complete with stone steps. Before the work begins mid-month, I need to remove two feet of plants the length of the driveway border. Thus this area under the apple tree will handle those plants until the project is finished and they can return home.
Then we will redesign the apple tree garden. No clear plan at the moment — other than incorporating the 15 solid green Hakonechloa plants I bought a few weeks ago. They are currently living in pots on the deck.