Loss of tree costing me a fortune

When a diseased tree was removed from my next-door neighbor’s back yard recently I couldn’t stop watching. It took four men almost two full days and a lot of skill to do the job. Huge pieces of trunk dangled back and forth in the air and had to be guided to exactly the right spot before they were dropped, and all that was done with no damage to my neighbor’s garden or my own.

Several of the tree’s branches were hanging over my house, so I watched nervously, in case doing that might help. (Ha.) Above, the view from my bedroom.

I was told that the tree was an ash that had probably gotten infected due to the removal of several of its branches. It clearly posed a safety hazard as long as it was standing.

As suspected, the interior of the tree was being hollowed out by disease.  On the right, the machine used to get these humongous pieces of tree down the sidewalk to the chipper parked in the street.

Because the tree had already lost more than one major limb, I underestimated how much shade it was still providing, as did my neighbor. So we experienced that familiar shock that gardeners report after trees come down and their shade gardens suddenly become sun gardens. We’ll see if these ferns make it or not. Ditto for all my hostas, thriving in their deer-free and (formerly) shady spot.

Moving on, there’s the effect of all the increased direct sunlight on my house. Honestly, though I’ve read lots about the cooling effect of trees, I wouldn’t have guessed how much impact this tree’s loss would have on my comfort level and air-conditioning bill.

Suddenly, full sun was streaming into my living room, which made sitting in my favorite chair pretty uncomfortable. The wooden blinds on this window had been a poor choice to begin with – too heavy to operate easily, and not terribly effective at blocking the sun.

So I gave away the heavy wooden blinds and ordered some spiffy, high-efficiency double honeycomb shades that open and close from the middle. Above, what they look like now as winter approaches – open on the top for light, closed on the bottom (if needed) for privacy. On the right, what it looks like fully open, offering the best possible view of the garden.

That doesn’t help the now-sunny porch, though. The view above used to be shaded all day and is now sunny until early afternoon, so I have still more shopping to do to and money to spend, though not from Next-Day Blinds this time – it doesn’t have indoor-outdoor products. Home Depot does, though, and they can be custom-sized. Covering the sunny sides of the porch is going to cost me.

Finally, next spring I’ll be shopping for a nice medium-size tree to put between the sun and my house and porch, and that won’t be cheap, either. It also won’t do much good for the first decade or more, so I’ll also be buying a market umbrella for the patio.

So I’m convinced, more than just reading about efficiency measures had never done, of the incalculable value of deciduous (leaf-dropping) trees that shade in the summer and let light through in the winter when it’s needed. There are lots of other benefits of trees, too, especially in urban settings.

The loss of this and several other trees in my part of town recently has neighbors wondering if there’s a tree replacement plan in effect. Residents are reluctant to replace them at all, much less with trees that’ll grow to the same impressive size as this surprisingly useful ash.

And by the way, my neighbor didn’t have to pay for the tree removal; it’s covered by our co-op fee.

Originally published on Greenbelt Live.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on November 6, 2015 at 7:43 am, in the category It’s the Plants, Darling.

Comment List

  • Sue W 09 / 10 / 2016

    You have just outlined all the reasons I have not pulled the plug on a large messy Sycamore planted 20 feet from my house in my south facing front garden.

  • Laura Munoz 12 / 11 / 2016

    My former house was “all sun, all of the time.” My current house holds 8 HUGE OLD trees in the backyard. I’ve never been a shade gardener, but to my surprise, I really enjoy the shade these babies supply. I can sit on the back deck and not burn up in the height of summer, which says a lot, and in June/July/August I haven’t had the need to turn on the AC until late afternoon.

  • Allen Bush 16 / 11 / 2016

    I took down a 50 year old ash tree a few years ago. I became known in my neighborhood as the Ash Assassin. The tree wasn’t long for this world, anyway. It had been afflicted with bacterial and fungal problems for years. The emerald ash borer had just arrived in Louisville arrived and its days were numbered. The removal left a huge gaping hole but it also created some fun new opportunities. A beech tree is planted in its place. My neighbors have forgiven me.

  • Kim 18 / 11 / 2016

    Fall is the best time to plant trees. I wouldn’t wait til spring if you can find what you want now.

  • admin 20 / 11 / 2016

    I would wait until Spring to plant and spend your time preparing the site. You wouldn’t want to move into a house that just had the old stuff removed. You might want refinished floors and a new coat of paint. Spring is a perfectly fine time to plant, especially if there’s some shade during part of the day.

  • Penney Hubbard 21 / 11 / 2016

    One phrase surfaced a hunch I’ve had for a long time. “got infected due to the removal of several of its branches”. Some tree people tell me that it is fine to prune as much as 1/3 of branches but I don’t buy it! I know that one of our beautiful Acer palmatums is suffering because of that and now we are in survival mode with major TLC for this maroon Japanese beauty.

  • Stella B 21 / 11 / 2016

    Our house had big, brittle melaleucas planted four feet from the house when we moved in. They’ve been removed and replaced with trees planted at a more reasonable distance (the yard has been regraded and the smashed roof tiles have been replaced, too!). The new trees don’t offer any shade yet and it’s going to be a loooong time. At least the acorn that I planted on the slope below the house is now tall enough to see from inside, though.

  • admin 21 / 11 / 2016

    The tree trimmer in Susan’s photo is wearing spikes. That’s OK if you’re taking a tree down, but a real no-no if you’re trimming a healthy tree. It’s possible that they spiked the tree when they removed those branches in the past and that’s what caused the disease.

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