Hey Jim, yep! it's a three year old thread, but I keep adding to it. Thanks for your suggestions.
1. I never thought about plants suffering from the reflective heat from the house. At the same time, it put the trees there to keep the sun from ever reaching the building wall! Most people tell me I plant too close to buildings though so I'm sure you're right. Keep the suggestions coming!
2. I generally planted in the East-West alignment, but it reality, I just plant all over the place
It's also true that we don't lack for sunlight here...
3. It's true that my mulch has lots of sticks in it. I should probably chop them up like you say, but the termites are so helpful in that regard that I get lazy. I'm getting ready to chop and drop now though, so I'll put some more thought into it. In general, a piece of wood smaller than the thickness of my arm won't be around a year from now. Termites are just that voracious.