When a diseased tree was removed from my next-door neighbor’s back yard recently I couldn’t stop watching. It took four men almost two full days and a lot of skill to do the job. Huge pieces of trunk dangled back and forth in the air and had to be guided to exactly the right spot before they were dropped, and all that was done with no damage to my neighbor’s garden or my own.
Several of the tree’s branches were hanging over my house, so I watched nervously, in case doing that might help. (Ha.) Above, the view from my bedroom.
I was told that the tree was an ash that had probably gotten infected due to the removal of several of its branches. It clearly posed a safety hazard as long as it was standing.
As suspected, the interior of the tree was being hollowed out by disease. On the right, the machine used to get these humongous pieces of tree down the sidewalk to the chipper parked in the street.
Because the tree had already lost more than one major limb, I underestimated how much shade it was still providing, as did my neighbor. So we experienced that familiar shock that gardeners report after trees come down and their shade gardens suddenly become sun gardens. We’ll see if these ferns make it or not. Ditto for all my hostas, thriving in their deer-free and (formerly) shady spot.
Moving on, there’s the effect of all the increased direct sunlight on my house. Honestly, though I’ve read lots about the cooling effect of trees, I wouldn’t have guessed how much impact this tree’s loss would have on my comfort level and air-conditioning bill.
Suddenly, full sun was streaming into my living room, which made sitting in my favorite chair pretty uncomfortable. The wooden blinds on this window had been a poor choice to begin with – too heavy to operate easily, and not terribly effective at blocking the sun.
So I gave away the heavy wooden blinds and ordered some spiffy, high-efficiency double honeycomb shades that open and close from the middle. Above, what they look like now as winter approaches – open on the top for light, closed on the bottom (if needed) for privacy. On the right, what it looks like fully open, offering the best possible view of the garden.
That doesn’t help the now-sunny porch, though. The view above used to be shaded all day and is now sunny until early afternoon, so I have still more shopping to do to and money to spend, though not from Next-Day Blinds this time – it doesn’t have indoor-outdoor products. Home Depot does, though, and they can be custom-sized. Covering the sunny sides of the porch is going to cost me.
Finally, next spring I’ll be shopping for a nice medium-size tree to put between the sun and my house and porch, and that won’t be cheap, either. It also won’t do much good for the first decade or more, so I’ll also be buying a market umbrella for the patio.
So I’m convinced, more than just reading about efficiency measures had never done, of the incalculable value of deciduous (leaf-dropping) trees that shade in the summer and let light through in the winter when it’s needed. There are lots of other benefits of trees, too, especially in urban settings.
The loss of this and several other trees in my part of town recently has neighbors wondering if there’s a tree replacement plan in effect. Residents are reluctant to replace them at all, much less with trees that’ll grow to the same impressive size as this surprisingly useful ash.
And by the way, my neighbor didn’t have to pay for the tree removal; it’s covered by our co-op fee.
Originally published on Greenbelt Live.