Friday, September 05, 2008

Swinging From the Trees

The Tree Guys came today. I was up at 7:00am waiting for them. 1) because I was anxious (which is a bit sad, I realize, as I type it); and 2) if I wasn't they would have arrived and I would have been forced to answer the door in my pj's.

They arrived at 2:00 pm.

The first casualty was the cedar tree in my front yard. It is gone. Good riddance. People can now see that I actually am making progress on the exterior painting. Although, I'm a little shocked at how exposed I now feel.

The next part of the job was a little more challenging. The 200+ yr old red oak in my backyard needed to have some dead branches cut down. The job was to trim my side of the tree. I can't take a photo that shows how massive this tree is. I tried. I can tell you that the first branch off of the trunk only starts well above the top of the roof of my house.

The Main Tree Guy (MTG) climbed up a ladder whose height frightened me just looking at it. Once he got into the tree, he worked his way up & up (in the photo you can see him in the top "Y" of the tree just to the left of the peeling painted eaves). Then they slowly started cutting and lowering each branch down to the ground & to the chipper. It took about 3 hrs. The change in the amount of light that hits my back yard is amazing.

However, this little tale does not end well. When all the work was done, the MTG called me over and told me he needed to show me something. Ugh, never good.

We walked down the back alley to the next house and looked back up at the tree. MTG directed me to look at a spot way up in the tree. I saw it. It was a large hole in the trunk that was rotting out from the inside. He said the hole was big enough for him to crawl in....and housed a family of raccoons. It affects basically the top 30% of the tree.

(I am going to pause now and pitch a little fit. Good fricken grief. Last year I was forced to pay for a damn new sewer and now a tree? This tree is 200+ yrs old and it has to pick my watch to pull this crap? Why not 50 yrs from now? When do I get to save my money for the fun projects? Deep breath.)

MTG laid out two possible options for consideration.

1) We give the tree a good trim to open it up. This means my neighbor will need get his side trimmed (he's okay with that). This will improve air circulation and hopefully slow down decay, etc. and may extend the tree's life by years. Then we would check on the tree once or twice a year to see how things are going. Although, there is always the possible threat that the branch could crack in a storm and fall into my yard (or house). Then again, it could also fall into my leaves-a-bit-to-be-desired-garage and things could all work out well. It's a bit of a crap shoot.

2) The tree gets cut down this winter (or next). To do this, I'd need to take down the back stretch of my fence and cover my perennial garden (my baby) for a truck to access. This option, is pricey (my neighbor & I would split the cost). But, it also would put an end to all concern.

The wild card in this whole discussion is that fact that this tree brings quite a bit of value to my property (and my neighbor's). It's one of those great trees you lay in your hammock and look up at on a summer's day. Without it, my yard would be a whole lot less appealing.

Right now, I'm leaning heavily to option #1.


Anonymous said...

I say go with option #1

Josh said...

Always the pragmatist, I'd ask myself how long I intend to stay in the house. If you think you might move in the next 5 years (doesn't sound like you, Stucco) I'd go with option 1 to preserve your house value. But if you are planning to stay put for a while, I'd go with option 2 in order to maximize the time given a replacement tree has to mature. If the hole is really big enough for a person to crawl into, option 2 is a "when" not "if" proposition.

Jennifer said...

Tough decision... I'm with Josh on this. If they do the cut down in the winter, your perennial garden will likely survive if you cover it with lots of cardboard and such.

Kathy from NJ said...

I know of a huge very old maple tree that had major damage. The tree people removed a lot of branches and then filled the hole with something that looks like cement. I don't know if this was done to prevent further damage or to strengthen the tree or for some other reason; you might want to ask your tree person. Just curious, is the tree on the property line or do you just have a very nice neighbor?

StuccoHouse said...

Thanks for the opinions.....I need to hear what others think on this one. I am waffling. What I do know is that nothing will be done this winter other than a good trim. I realyl like my tree guy, but I'll probably get a seond opinion too.

Josh - The one thing that make replacement difficult is that even if they grind down the trunk, the root system is so massive, I'm not sure anything else substantial would grow in my yard. It really is a "when" not "if" proposition from what I know now. Lol....I willhave to address you "5 year" comment in a future post....that topic has been coming up a lot lately.

Jennifer - I have heirloom perrenials (handed down from my faily) in there, so it would kill me if anything happened to them. I'd really have to plan ahead on that.

Kathy - Funny you should mention that. I was asking my dad on Thursday...because I remember thme pouring something like cement into holes in tree too...when I was growing up. We weren't sure if that was an old thing (like painting fresh cuts w/ white paint) or if they still might do that. I'll have to look into that more.

The trunk of the tree is about 50/50% on my lot & my neighbor's. Although, he *thinks* the property line runs along my fence, which would put most of the tree in his yard. I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm being very generous ;-)

The tree has one main outgrowth that is over my yard, so about 75% of the affected branches are over me. My neighbor is great. We get along well, although he ocassionally does things that make me crazy (and I blog about them to keep my sanity). For reasons I won't get into, the decision process over there takes a lot longer, so most of the planning etc. for this falls to me (and I'm fine with that).

One thing I need to keep in mind, that this whole arrangement could change if for some reson I get new neighbors.

Omar said...

I would try to save the tree if I could -- absolutely beautiful!

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