Monday, July 16, 2012

In Praise of Trees

Day 165
The Daily DuBrule

I am having a tree crisis. I came home from work last week and my husband was beside himself. "Here, read this and weep" he said as he handed me a paper from the utility company. They were informing us that our gorgeous, ancient, stately maple trees along the street were going to be "pruned" for power line clearance. In fact, the letter said that they could even be removed if necessary. These trees make our part of the street what it is. They are one of the reasons we were attracted to this house in the first place. They are lined up in a row in front of 8 of my neighboring houses. Or I should say they were...
My house when I bought it in 2004

A few weeks ago, in front of one of these houses (where the former occupants had passed away and the relatives inherited the house) we came home from work to find two of these perfectly good, stately trees cut to the ground! The owners of the house contracted to have this done. Their little cape now sits in full blazing sun. The next Monday, I awoke to hear the sound of saws and was horrified to see their tree company cutting down a third magnificent maple in the back yard, on the south side of the house. Now they will need to run their air conditioner day and night as there are no trees to cool the house. And, the house looks so bare and open. The lineup of maples on the street had been breached.

Five weeks ago, a tree service came and cut another maple in the lineup down to the ground. My neighbor on the other side had contracted to have it done as the tree had sustained damage in the Halloween snow storm the previous year and he was sick of having to clean up after it. The same day the the back yard maple came down on one side of me, the stump to this ancient maple was ground- for three loud hours.

Our house has three giant maples in front of it. One is old and sick and continues to lose branches. It may have to come down, but I have hired my own arborist to look at it today and see if can be kept alive for a few more years. The other two flank the driveway and they are supreme specimens. These are the trees we are most concerned about. We want these not only to be saved, but we do NOT want them rudely pruned as I have seen done so many times when electric lines are cleared.

The letter from the utility company said I had 15 days to call and discuss the matter. I called immediately. I said that under no circumstances were they to do any work unless I was home. I said that I was a landscape contractor and they did not want to mess with me. (Actually I said it a bit more gracefully than that, but you get the idea). I said that I know tons of arborists and tree companies and our trees mean EVERYTHING to us. 

I got a voice mail message saying that we will be notified when the trimming will be done and that we can be there and work with them as far as what will be cut. I am going one step further. My arborist is coming for a consultation today and I am going to get his opinion about the best way to work on these trees. If he is willing, I will offer to pay HIM to be here with me when the utility trucks arrive to do their dirty work. My husband is still really upset and we are both really nervous about how this is going to play out. 

With the extremely hot weather we have had this year, starting in March, I have come to appreciate large shade trees more than ever. I understand the safety issues with trees and power lines, but I think many people have overreacted to the inconvenience of a week long power outage by attacking the trees that provide us with cooling shade, oxygen, and a place for birds and other creatures to dwell. We need to think intelligently about what we do to the trees that have taken nearly a century to grow. 


  1. You might want to tie a sign to the trees with your message and how to contact you. I have heard of the power company "promising" to call ahead and they do not!

  2. I've seen and read this happen so many times, all it does is make me angrier and angrier when I hear about it. They should have seen it foreshadowing that the branches were going to grow, its common knowledge. Its first grade. Its easier to do dirty work before, not after its settled...

    -Tony Salmeron
    Tree Company Hendersonville