Street Trees, How Sad – GBBD Pages 70-73

Please click the images to read the editorial-like post. Backspace gets you back.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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21 Responses to Street Trees, How Sad – GBBD Pages 70-73

  1. Catherine says:

    I’ll try to be sneaky sometime and post a picture of what my neighbors are doing to a Weeping Willow that was planted in a way too small of a front yard and now they are pruning it to keep it small. I also noticed today a newly planted row of trees directly below power lines, I’m sure at some point those trees will be topped because of bad planning by someone. I do hate to see trees damaged because people didn’t take the time to choose the right tree for the particular spot.

  2. One says:

    Great article and love your drawings. I think the issue here is that many of us think of the tree as another structure. We would not park our car above a living being but we forget that the tree is also a living being since it remains quiet with all the abuse. This article will serve to wake those who have been ignorant but actually kind at heart.

  3. Karen says:

    Very true, Donna, and very sad. Too few people understand the needs a tree has to survive and thrive. I never understood it when people plant a little tree under a power line. I know they just don’t think about how tall the tree will be when they’re planting a little sapling, but with just a little forethought, they could head off the devastation you have pictured in this post. Your blog has brought this travesty to the attention of gardeners every where. I hope everyone who reads this helps spread the word too.

  4. Masha says:

    You have many good points there, especially concerning the difficulty of maintaining trees in a city. I do have to add though, especially looking at the last picture, that sometimes people planting trees make bad choices, such as planting big trees right under wires… All in all, more thought should go into selecting, planting and maintaining city trees. Thank you for raising the issue.

  5. I’m amazed at how well so many of the trees in our cities do manage to survive, despite being hemmed in by pavement and road. Mostly lime trees, perhaps they are particularly robust, though I have heard that some are now being removed, not because of power lines or because the pavement is buckling from the root action (though both are issues), but because the fallen leaves create a slip hazard and could lead to the council being sued! I fear a generation of kids growing up in a bare concrete jungle without ever having had the pleasure of scuffing through piles of dried leaves in Autumn on being shaded by the greenery in summer.

  6. Great post and looking forward to reading more about the trees. Sadly, cities are become more and more concrete with fewer parks and even fewer trees. It is so sad to see the trees dying a slow death! The small town next to me just planted trees all along the road right under the utility lines. It makes me so mad! I think education is the key here.

  7. We are very lucky in Philadelphia to have the PA Horticultural Society and its arm Philadelphia Green. Not only does it plant street trees, but it trains neighborhoods to take care of them through its Tree Tenders program. It clears vacant lots of debris and reclaims them with trees, grass, and a fence. Studies at Univ. of PA have shown that trees dramatically increase property values in city neighborhoods.

  8. TufaGirl says:

    I am sending a copy of this to my landlord. He insists he can punch a hole in a parking lot and a beautiful tree will grow. Somehow he can not understand that a tree does not want to send its roots for oxygen and nutrients into a dead deep hot hole in the city.

  9. Looking forward to more posts on this, especially those that help us choose the best street trees and how to care for them.

  10. Sheila Read says:

    Thanks for calling attention to this problem. I’ve been thinking a lot about the abuse of street trees, since the local power company has chainsawed through our neighborhood these past couple of weeks, protecting its power lines at the expense of mature hardwoods. The workers clearly have little knowledge of or respect for trees. It makes me ill to see a mature white oak limbed up almost all the way to the crown, then one large branch left 30 or 40 feet below under the power line. The worst offense was to two huge Southern magnolias that were growing next to (but barely touching) the powerline. I would estimate the age of these magnolias at well over 100 years – they are the same size as magnolias that I know were planted immediately after the Civil War. The power company cut the entire top half of both magnolias off (probably the top 15 feet). It is not only sickening to see, but totally unnecessary. Magnolias have very hard wood. I have never seen a Southern magnolia tree downed, or even a limb broken in a storm. Sorry for the length of this comment, but you clearly hit a nerve!

  11. lifeshighway says:

    A great informative editorial that make one sad and hopefully will make more than a few people think. Raleigh does a pretty good job of protecting its street trees as they tout themselves The City of Oaks. But as you say, the bricks disappear and the concrete is hot and unforgiving.

    I love the gracious cool look of a tree lined street.

  12. Great post Donna. I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree… I love trees and the great value they bring not only to our property but to our lives a s well! But I don’t understand why people (and city managers) simply plant them with no thought of their life expectancy. Is there enough room here to make them comfortable and allow them to fulfill the measure of their creation? Will thy be happy here? What measures must be taken to insure they are healthy and thrive.? Aren’t those the questions we should be asking of any living thing? Certainly we should be aware of the needs of something that has such a profound influence on our own happiness. Sorry, this subject hits a nerve. I live in a beautiful city that plants tons of trees that I love dearly, but it pains me to see some of these trees that aren’t properly cared for.

  13. Laurrie says:

    I see these tree travesties all the time… grotesquely pruned monsters cradling power lines in their remaining branches. And then a new school was built down the street and the landscapers planted a row of red maples directly under the power lines. The saplings are 15 feet tall now, each reaching for the lines right above … did the landscaper not realize they would grow?

    And the weird thing is that there is plenty of front lawn at this school. These trees could have been installed much further back and had plenty of room. It’s as if the landscaper used the power lines as a sight line for planting.

  14. I just want to say thank you to all that care and have the same reaction that I do on this matter. Your comments are every bit as important and thought provoking to this post as the post itself. I am very thrilled that so many are taking the time to write and express their concern for the health of our trees. Arbor day is at the end of the month here in New York but different around the country. This post has the link to when it is in your state.

    I have talked about this issue before in my post called Tree Massacre. I will take you to the tree farm this week and show you the trees being dug for their new homes. I can almost say I’m so sorry to see some of them go, knowing where they might end up.

  15. Around here I see a lot of trees with crew cuts. It’s sad and bizarre. I wish all the power lines were buried, which would help solve the problem. I love the cartoon at the top of the post. It’s perfect! I also see TONS of crepe myrtles that have been crepe murdered by idiotic landscaping crews at the behest of ignorant property owners. It never fails to make me mad!

  16. Love this post Donna. Even though we’re more rural than urban, I cringe when I see what our local power utility company does to the trees along the road easement. Where’s the love? Honestly, I’d rather see the trees cut down altogether, than mutilated and disfigured along the roadside. I understand the need to keep the power lines clear, but every year they come back and shave off more branch tips, or cut holes out of the canopy, just to come back and do it again. I’m amazed how some of these trees survive at all…but if only they could talk…

  17. This is an old and probably everlasting problem. Some people just seem not to care about a tree is a living structure and any damage to it might cause the tree to die.
    A tree doesn’t die immediately when it gets hit bad enough e.g. by a car – a tree will die slowly over years.
    Thank God, most of the power lines here in our area are buried and do not cause such drastically cuts in the trees as shown in the pictures you have posted.
    Paula Jo

  18. Holley says:

    I agree that trees take a lot of abuse. I sometimes wonder how they are still alive. It’s sad and sickening that something that lives as long or longer than we are so mistreated and taken for granted. They are not just another annual, though we usually treat them as such.

  19. Kimberly says:

    I am truly saddened by the street tree situation you have brought to our attention. Honestly, I hadn’t considered some of the aspects you discuss. I have definitely taken note of poorly pruned trees around overhead utility lines or those in cramped spaces. I have also noticed hot, dry areas where there are little to no trees at all. Such a pity. No, it’s not easy caring for those large mature trees, but the benefits of having them is well worth the effort and expense, I believe. Although, it’s a given that all people do not revere trees or plant life in general the way we gardeners do, as you’ve pointed out so well. Your post is a fantastic tool to educate and provide awareness!

  20. Donna says:

    how sad to treat trees in this manner…we rarely see trees in cities because they get int he way of utilities and are pruned to dangerous strange levels…few are replaced or tended…they clear cut areas to build houses…

  21. I am in a new development, and my house is 4 years old. There’s some amount of guilt to this, knowing this was a farmer’s field not too long ago. For years I’ve tried to rejuvenate an American elm on the corner of our lot who had its roots all scraped away. But the street trees they put in they’ve replaced twice. They plant them in early December, don’t water ever again, and now the 2nd tree (12′ tall) is dead to about 3 feet off the ground with desparate new 4′ shoots lurching out in the cardinal directions. Shoot look nice for the garden tour this summer! This mostly-dead thing has been sitting out there for almost three years!

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