|From In the Garden|
Trees in the garden are a must for me. I thank my lucky stars every single day that Mr. Fix-it and I were able to find a home with mature hardwood trees on the property. We are blessed with oaks, black gums, eastern red cedars, maples, a hickory, dogwoods, and wild cherries. I have also planted many other trees on the property that include: crabapples, crepe myrtles, redbuds, a spicebush, viburnums, Japanese maples, and a silverbell. Did I say we have only one acre? It is a small lot for all of these trees to be sure but I have worked very hard to balance the taller trees with the understory trees. All the trees I have planted are smaller trees and mostly understory trees so the tree situation works fairly well. I am finally getting to a point that I can say I am mostly happy with the mix here at Tiger Gardens but with all the trees we have here it is inevitable some will have problems. To fine tune the mix of trees and take care of the problem trees we recently hired some professional tree trimmers. What is the issue with problem trees? And why should they be tended to?
Taking down mature trees is never an easy thing to do, but when you have a tree that has damage or has died it should come down. Additionally, if that tree is likely to hit something (target) when it falls it should be removed immediately. It is much better to spend the money taking the tree down on your terms than on Mother Nature's terms. Now on to my problem trees.
Moving into this house eight years ago we could barely find the ground let alone trees or even our way out of this jungle. The house had been empty for four months during the growing season and had not seen any maintenance in that time. If that wasn't bad enough, the previous two homeowners were not gardeners. Oh sure there were a few perennials here and there (hostas, daylilies, irises, lily of the valley, and sedum to be exact) but the homeowners never seemed to have cut the lawn or maintained the trees. The place was a mess and had at least three dead trees and many more saplings growing everywhere when we first moved in.
The first order of business was to remove all the small saplings we were able to remove on our own. Mr. Fix-it must have cut down a hundred large and small trees himself but some of the trees were beyond his capabilities. We hired a professional tree trimmer and had half a dozen more trees cut down over the years. This included the dead trees and some other trees that were growing in the wrong spot or too close to more desirable trees. Tree trimmers charge a pretty hefty fee to cut down trees so we had to be most selective with which ones we cut first based on our budget.
One tree I failed to have taken down was a black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) that had been infected with flathead borers. We discovered the borer damage when all of the bark began falling away from the tree trunk soon after we moved in. The damaged trunk is pictured above. I treated the borers by peeling away the bark and physically removing all flathead borers and destroying them. The tree seemed to recover as evidenced by its bark growing back along the edges of the wound, but never fully regained its glory. It became a problem tree and had to be removed.
Since this black gum was within 10 feet of Mr. Fix-it's garage and in and amongst many gardens it had to be limbed prior to it coming down. Removing large limbs is a must to ensure a smooth drop into a small area. Here is our tree trimmer (Dan) in a bucket truck safely removing the limbs for the gum tree. The huge tree fell perfectly and is now gone. This was not a job we could safely do ourselves. I can't stress enough that safety if vitally important when dealing with large trees on a property.
Another problem tree was a mature oak tree that we think got struck by lightening at some point in 2007. I don't know when that could have happened though since that year we saw a severe drought and not too many thunder and lightening storms. Ironic huh? It completely died and had lost almost all of its limbs over the past two years. We are most lucky if did not come down before now. It had to go because it was a problem tree. It too was limbed and then dropped right between the gardens in front of you.
The last thing we had done was to get some trees limbed up. I am a big proponent of limbing up. There is nothing worse than walking or mowing your lawn and running into tree branches. A bit of ducking out of the way while driving a riding lawnmower does not make for a happy camper. My neighbor does it every time he cuts his yard and it is kind of amusing for me but probably not for him when he is getting whacked by low limbs while mowing the lawn. Anyone else have that problem? Ducking and bending to avoid low tree limbs?
I have a chainsaw 'on a stick' and I spend a lot of time during the winter limbing up trees so I don't have to duck and dive while walking or mowing the lawn. I am always sure to cut all the way back to the tree trunk and I make sure not to cut into the tree trunk when I cut limbs. When the cut is clean and done properly the tree heals the wound by growing bark over the opening. It takes a period of a few years but it does happen. I had gone as far as I could go with my chainsaw on a stick with these mature oak trees on the southern side of our property. I now needed some professional help to take off some heavy limbs. The tree trimmers worked in a tight spot to make sure the limbs did not hit the wisteria arbor or my chain link fence on the other side of the arbor. I am so thrilled with the change! The garden can now get more sun, no one will be running in to limbs, and the beautiful views are opened up. I think the trees actually look better and are happier as well. I can tell you some of the limbs that were removed were interfering with my neighbor's parking area and still others were hanging close to our power lines.
The trees are all much happier losing some of those lower limbs and what a difference limbing up has made for the garden and light in the garden. Removing problem trees was also a very smart move because they were problem trees....
in the garden....
P.S. We had four trees cut down this time (including one in the neighbor's yard that was threatening our garage) but I have to admit (gladly) that I recently planted four more trees-though not gigantic monsters like cherries, gums and oaks. Cut a tree-plant a tree is my motto.
While cutting trees the butterflies were flying like crazy despite it being the end of October. I asked Mr. Fix-it which butterfly picture he liked best. I guess I should not be surprised he likes the long pictures 'because they show the big picture'. He chose the first picture showing two butterflies along with the lantana and beautyberry in the background. I have tons of monarch pictures I am just itching to post so expect more in the future. The garden is still green here and butterflies are still around. Fall is taking a long time to settle in to my area here in Tennessee-a good thing!