|Black Gum Tree|
When we moved into our home nearly twelve years ago the property was a mess. The house had been empty for four months when we saw it in August of 2001. Four months during the growing season in Tennessee means lots and lots of growing. The yard was covered with bramble, weeds, tall grass, tree saplings, rocks, and large trees. All had been allowed to grow wild as in 'Trees and Weeds Gone Wild!'. Apparently the previous owners did not have much of a plan for the property. And when I say a plan I do not mean a full on landscape design. I would have been happy if the owners had at least had a bit of foresight to manage the trees. Trees are by far the largest and most prominent part of a landscape in my humble opinion. They do, however, need managing in order to grow properly and fit into a landscape. For instance, you cannot let oak seedlings grow willy nilly and expect to have healthy oak trees without some thinning and management of those seedlings. Said seedlings grow into very large trees quite quickly. That was what had happened here in Tiger Gardens. The trees (mostly oaks) were overcrowded and not so healthy. I must say on a positive note that I am most grateful there were trees here at all. Many Tennessee landscapes have no trees and that is perhaps a far worse problem than mismanaged trees.
Some homeowners just can't be bothered with trees. They either cut them all down and mow a large green lawn or they let everything grow as it will. The yard quickly becomes very natural and overgrown. The problem with this is that trees will quickly colonize an area and those cute little small trees soon grow into very large trees-and they grow quite quickly in a lot of cases. When trees are left to their own devices and are allowed to grow and grow at will, you will get crowding. Crowding can consist of two very large trees growing right next to each other or it can consist of large trees crowding the house and other out buildings. Additionally, trees that are crowded compete with one another for resources such as water and nutrients and can, in some cases, even shade one another out. Trees that are crowded or have root disturbance from buildings or hardscape cannot possibly grow in ideal conditions and will become stressed. A good wind, late freeze, drought, or any number of mitigating factors will take advantage of the tree, stress the tree, then the tree is susceptible to becoming sick and not so healthy and strong. Once a tree is sick, unless measures are taken to fix the tree the tree will die or fall down before dying. When a tree falls it is possible damage will result.
Over the years I have tried to fix the situation here at Tiger Gardens by culling some trees and planting others. The plan has worked well but I was overlooking a few problems due to the sheer immensity of the problem-namely the large trees in difficult positions. The main problem was a multi-trunked silver maple tree. I posted about that tree several years ago found at this link. Silver maples are notorious for above the ground roots, brittle wood, and fast growth. They are also messy. To be fair they have a few good points. The cedar waxwings love to eat the buds in the spring, they provide good shade, and are reliable-until they snap or fall. Not bad, but when coupled with the fact that my multi-trunked silver maple was growing right next to the property line where I happen to have a nice privacy fence; which was being muscled out by the tree; and that the tree had grown tremendously in the years we have lived here, I felt it was time to take it down.
The second problem tree was a black gum tree. While I loved the tree and it was in a fairly good location with no major issues, it had some stresses wrought by the late freeze in 2007, subsequent drought, and then several years of summer droughts. This past summer the gum lost all of its canopy in June, then partially regrew it in July when the rains returned. I could tell it was stressed. In the past five years it has had the same cycle of losing its leaves due to droughts and I knew it was only a matter of time before it succumbed to its abuses. Trees are not hardwired to produce two canopies per year and the toll was slowly killing the gum tree. Also, while I have read black gum trees grow to about 85 feet, I swear this one was over 100 feet tall and very mature. This black gum was not at all resilient like the oaks and even the silver maple. Even though I truly hated to remove it I felt the time was right for the gum tree to go as well as the silver maple.
|Removing the Black Gum Tree|
|Removing the Silver Maple. Note the multiple trunks and close proximity to the privacy fence.|
|Target Tree Black Gum|
|Target Tree Multi-Trunked Silver Maple|
|Silver Maple after removal-yeah the sun shines in!!|
The job is complete now! I am SO happy to have that silver maple gone. Not only can I now garden in the area but the plants will all do so much better now that they will get some sun and not have that silver maple wick away all available water. I had already planted a couple of Japanese maples in the area and also a crabapple tree. This has ensured trees will continue in this area of my garden even without the huge silver maple. I have also already taken measures to put a new garden in place of the tree stump and the garden is growing well. Of course this involved bringing in two tons of soil to fill in over the maple's roots but that is a story for another day....
in the garden....
As a side note: The huge wind storm we had December 19th and 20th actually felled a large silver maple on the other side of the above neighbor's property. The tree fell on another neighbor's garage. Fortunately damage was minor. My neighbor here in the white house has been most busy cutting up all of that wood. We were both happy I had had my silver maple removed because you just never really know if a tree will come down. The silver maple that did fall in his yard was completely hollow inside. Mine was not but still, there are no guarantees with trees.
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden