Remember these guys? They originally worked for the City and were responsible for my funny Monday post awhile back, called Roots ‘a Rotten. Laid off from the City, they moved on to greener pastures.
With a new job, they are now your friendly utility workers and their job is to protect the utility company’s property. Hey, can you blame them? But we know how you feel about what they do to YOUR trees. So who is the AXE MURDERER here? Well, let’s have a chat about that.
The utility company , in my case National Grid, is very willing to help you in regards to planting trees on your property. They have a nice little diagram that gives you tips on tree placement in relationship to their lines and your property.
If you click the link above, you will download a pdf file that has this handy chart, tree planting instructions, the Dig Safely phone number (which everyone should have) and a list of recommended small trees that you can plant under low utility lines or in confined spaces.
It is invaluable. Take it from me. I use it to let clients know that I am not the only one recommending proper tree placement.
After all, overhead lines are the easiest to see, yet the ones we take the most for granted. They have a tendency to look innocuous but can be quite harmful – just think kids climbing the tree.
So I thought I better explore this a bit. And funny thing is, you can easily see how many people ignore what is overhead or down below.
Let’s see what I am talking about. Think this owner made a mistake? Wires are laying on what is left of the tree top, so this poor maple may get the axe again before winter. Nobody wants to kill the cable during football season.
How often do we see large trees that are better suited for state parks and open meadows planted like you see here. It is not only bad for the trees, but your utility bill as well. The cost of maintaining the trees gets passed on to consumers, even those without any property.
We see this over and over and over again, the ritual maiming of stately trees. All it takes is a little foresight and a willingness to understand the growth habit of the tree being planted.
But what about the trees health? This repeated trimming weakens the tree, and this is very evident in the image above. The size of the leaves are nowhere near what is to be expected.
And it gets worse. City trees have a triple whammy. They get assaulted above, at and below ground. Sewer lines, sidewalks, road salt, road repairs, car exhaust, accidental vehicular damage, and on and on.
Look at the line of trees below left. There is so little left of the trees after so many limbs were hacked, and a good storm will likely snap those large and heavy branches at some point. It is because of the severe angle that they are protruding and hanging over the roadway all the way down the street. A big ice storm and lights out for them.
Have a closer look and see what was done below.
Tree topping is when the tree’s main leader gets trimmed to a nub. It deprives the tree of its natural shape, causing the tree to pump out fast growing sprouts. These sprouts occur in large numbers, making it necessary for the tree to get repeated and often trimmings. This weakens the tree in addition to ruining the character and beautiful shape. In addition, the tree is more prone to disease and open to decay by suffering constant trimming wounds. Branches and limbs are severed, causing immediate energy expended for repair and regrowth.
There are no utility lines here, but these trees have their own problems to deal with. They are cute when small, especially the pine. But, planting these young pine between Fairview maple, both having a 40 to 50 foot spread each, at two or four feet apart is just ludicrous. These are not volunteers, they appear to have been planted, since there is a long line of them repeating the pattern. There is a house to the far right in the image, that sits way back. Why these trees were planted only ten feet from the roadside drainage ditch behind them is beyond me. This guy had acres and acres to plant them.
And the final tree brings a tear to my eye. It is the graceful Weeping Willow, trying its hardest to keep the majesty, even with half of it gone through repeated butchering.
There are old, happy trees that were planted properly. They are near driveways and homes, but at locations that give the roots room to roam and the canopy the freedom it needs. Here are two example, one a maple and one a willow. They are on properties that I designed. I was so fortunate to have these beauties in place when I was hired.
Click to see this willow. It has a graceful and natural form.
The maple below is just beautiful in fall. It is brilliant red, complementing the laceleaf Japanese maple I had specified for the front bed. The newly planted crabapple also flushes red in fall.
I know many of you are seasoned gardeners and do not need advice on tree placement, but I just want remind a few to look up next time you are planting.
I just realized all the homicidal references I made in this post. Massacre; butchering; axe murderer; beheading; assaulted; limbs were hacked; ritual maiming; kill; suffering; limbs severed; and lights out. Sounds like the promo for a horror movie, not a post about trees.
Whoa, that is some psychological tell. No denying how I feel about trees. If you feel the same way, print out the pdf and go on your own crusade. If you see a homeowner purchasing a tree, ask them where they are planting it and show them the handout. You could save a life and prevent eventual treeicide.
Let’s not stop there, we could make a bumper sticker like this one below to show our save the trees stance. Kidding of course, since I am no activist. Have a great tree filled day, all.
Update: Elephant’s Eye has a new post where she wrote about TREEdom. She just let me know. Stop in and see. She always has the most beautiful photos from one of the most heavenly places on Earth.