Monday, March 21, 2011

Not Such Good News about the Tree

I thought the landscape company was going to call me today to set up the time to come inspect the silver maple in the front yard.  It's a good thing I was home this afternoon, because a crew showed up ready to work.  They were nice guys, and used the sidewalk and path in the curb bed.  Plus, they said I could take pictures.  One of the young men asked me if I do my own landscaping.  First, I said, "yes", but then I said I don't really landscape, but have hodge podge flower beds.  I can't remember how he replied, but it was something polite.

 At first glance, the foreman said he thought the tree looked good.  I called Larry to let him know, but too soon.  When he checked the holes I showed in the last post, he was able to put a stick in there about a foot.   He said there was some rotting, but they could put foam in there to keep the water from getting in there and causing more rotting.

When he got up high, he found more holes in the branches.

After he came down, he went back up the tree to check on a few other holes.  I can't remember how long the tool was he was poking into the tree here, but I think it was deeper than he wanted it to be.  (The one on the upper left branch is the one he is checking in the photo after this one.)

I love the look on his face as he discovered that a baby squirrel was in this cavity.  This is the one that will probably cause the tree to need to come down.  I forgot how deep it was, but I'm thinking it was more than half the diameter of the branch.  He said they would rescue the squirrel before doing work on the tree.

It's hard to see the hole in the next photo, but the branch that makes the left side of the "V", and ends up in the upper left of the photo is the one the foreman said is unsafe.  He didn't want to make the call on whether the tree needs to come down, so his boss, the arborist plans to come over tomorrow to discuss the findings.

I've been told we should get another opinion and another estimate, and we were planning to, but Larry and I are feeling like we can trust this company, even if it turns out they are more expensive than others.  The peace of mind in knowing they will do a good job, and be careful of my plants is worth something.  Plus, we are wanting to get it done before the leaves come out.

I was going to wait until after I talk to the arborist before posting this, but wanted to go ahead in case anyone had any further advice.  What would you do if you were in this situation?  I do want to look up what size of holes cause a tree to be unsafe or unhealthy.

It took a long time for the temps to get over the upper 40s today, and I'm not sure if we got up to the 72 we were supposed to get to, but it did get warm enough to do a little clean up in the front yard bed.  Tomorrow looks to be the warmest day of the week, so I hope to go out and get lots done.  I hope your spring is going well so far.


  1. oh no, so many holes and rotting in that tree! A baby squirrel living in there. Wow.

  2. Sue,

    I've found memories of the silver maple in our front yard as a kid. These take a long time to get this big. To me it does not look too bad, sealing those holes might be helpful. Trimming it up (if the limbs are all still alive) might be you best call and seeing what comes of that before taking it down.

    I am one that might leave a dead tree up just so the Hairy Woodpeckers can have fun removing the bark looking for beetles.

    My neighbor's big cherry tree is dead, it was fine last year... The drought here has been going on too long.

  3. Oh Gee, I don't know what I'd do if I were in your situation. I think I'd want to get a second opinion, but then if I found the first company was good and seemed to know what they were doing, I'd feel inclined to go with them.

    It's good to find an arborist and a tree company that you like and trust. Actually, that's true of just about anyone who is performing a service for you. We did once have a swamp maple with three trunks, where one ended up leaning very precariously over our roof, and we took just that trunk down, and then they wired the other two together to keep them from separating any further.

    I always feel more comfortable doing as much research, either in books or on the web, as I can.

    We used to have lots of snags in a wooded area in back of our house in Massachusetts, and I used to leave them up till they came down on their own. But I wouldn't want to leave one in the front, so close to the house.

  4. A great photo story, Sue. I hope the arborist will think it through carefully and come up with the best solution. They do seem to be a good team to work with.

    We have a Jacaranda growing in our wetland bed. It was alive last year, but has mysteriously died this year (not a single leaf in evidence!) It leans quite a bit, but as the birds love to perch, preen and roost in the dead branches, we've decided to leave it for now. I'm hoping nature has her own solution.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  5. Sue, I hate to see you loose the tree. I would get a second opinion. I wish you could have someone check it out who won't make money removing it. Do you have a forester in the area connected with a college?

    It is so close to the house, it could certainly do a lot of damage should one of those heavy limbs fall.

    Decisions, decisions. Good luck.

  6. I think I would be inclined to have them inject foam in all the holes and then see what happens. You have nothing to lose and maybe a few more years of life from the tree to gain. If the tree dies, it will take long enough for it to get brittle that you could have them come out and cut it down then, couldn't you? Of course if they think it's already unsafe I guess you'd have to go with their opinion there, you wouldn't want that tree falling on your house. It's always a sad thing to lose a tree, especially one as big and beautiful as that one. My mom grew silver maples and they suckered up on the ground all around themselves. Doesn't look like you have that problem.

  7. Lots of luck, I really wouldn't worry until I had lost a big branch, that is a silver maple for you.

  8. It sounds like you found a respectful company and that is more important than the cheapest in my experience with any contractor. I would still get a second opinion since it will be such a major change to your garden. I hadn't heard about filling the holes with foam before. Considering that you are in an area where water can get in there and freeze splitting the tree, I would think you really should do that if nothing else (removing the squirrel first--too cute). Keep us posted!

  9. I wish you the best of luck making your decision. .it would certainly be a hard one to make!!

  10. Trash tree. The tree may live another 10 years but eventually the wood rot is going to cause the tree to break. It would be better to remove now before it becomes larger. Also foam may keep the water out but it does not fix the rot problem. Those holes are where previous branches used to be, they probably were broken in a storm and didn't seal up properly after falling or trimmed. Even though saving trees can be a very sentimental situation, realistically why take a risk?

  11. Gosh - good luck with the tree. If you get a good company it's worth sticking with it.

  12. Trees are such treasured friends-- so so hard..

  13. Having had a tree with a rotten trunk fall on our truck and garage about 9 years ago, I would remove it if the arborists find more than a small amount of rot.

    It was a calm summer day and in the middle of the afternoon the big (probably 40 ft high) tree just fell. We had no idea it was rotten. Of course it was a different species, but I now find trees too close to my house very scary!

    Good luck with your decision.

  14. Hi Sue!
    That is so cute about the baby squirrel and that they will save it! yay!

    It's so sad when trees have to come down, they often hold such memories for us. And how the garden changes when all the shade is removed. A difficult decision but loads of new garden plants and opportunities to be had!

  15. I know it is hard, but if it has to go it has to go. It is a beautiful tree! It is one of the largest silver maples I have ever seen. They seem to have more problems, around here at least than Sugar Maples.

  16. It's a beautiful tree. I guess if it were me and that close to our house I'd be inclined to have it taken down if they find much rot. Our neighbors have had two huge maples die and he took them down himself. I couldn't even look when he was climbing the tree with his chainsaw tied to a big rope. Definitely a job for the professionals.

  17. I originally wrote the following here, then did a "cut and paste" into the post I decided to write. Then, I decided to paste it back here in case some of you subscribed to the follow up comments and don't get my latest post read.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and advice about our tree situation. I called the extension office today, and she very nicely got onto my blog and looked at the pictures. For one thing, she told me the foam is not considered good practice. She said about the same things Greggo did, that the foam would not stop the wood from rotting, making more cuts will create more of the holes that may not heal up well, since the others haven't. She didn't want to tell us straight out that we should go ahead and have the tree cut down, though. She was saying we will continue to have problems with the tree, and agreed that the big limb is not safe. When I asked what she would do if it was her tree, she said she can only give us the information so we can make the decision. She did end up saying things that helped me figure out it really is time for it to come down. She also said the tree is not healthy enough to draw any pesticides up into it. I didn't want to do that, anyway.

    The arborist had not come by 3:30 today, so I called to see what his plans were because I had the urge to go buy pansies and onion plants. He said it was going to be later, if he made it. I told him we can talk on the phone if he'd prefer. He told me he trusts his crew if they say it needs to come down. They hadn't told me that, but I figured that's what they were thinking, since they wanted it to come from him. I told him about my call to the extension office, so I felt it was the right decsion. He went ahead and gave me the estimate, which was more than I thought it was going to be. I called one other place, and they are going to be coming this week, hopefully. Everyone is busy now, because they got a bunch of leads at the Home and Leisure Show last weekend. In fact, the place I called for the estimate is a guy I talked to there.

    Oh, and Larry and I already have different ideas about what we want to do about the bare spot. Larry said he wanted to level the area and plant grass. I said I wanted him to wait because we'll need to figure out what we want the area to look like and see about finding a tree we could plant. I am so not wanting to plant any grass there! I am starting to get ideas for plants I'd like to put there. I'm thinking the planting area should extend from the area in front of the house. I told Larry I'd like to plant some annuals there. He said that's why we dug out the big area in the front. I told him I ended up planting a bunch of perennials there, so could use more space for annuals.

  18. It sounds like you got good advice from the extension agent. It's sad when a tree comes down but I already hear plans for the space which is great. Hope you and Larry can work that out. Good luck and keep us posted.


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