Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is Dedicated to the Tree that's not Loved Enough

I almost called this post, "Don't Blame the Rabbits", because yesterday I came across a flier from a local landscaping place, and read that no job is too small.  I told Larry I was going to see how much they would charge to put rabbit fencing around the vegetable garden, since we just don't ever seem to get around to doing it.  He told me to get an estimate on getting the front tree trimmed.

The tree guy came while Larry was gone, and he found damage that he said was due to some kind of borers.  I told the man I do not use pesticides.  He said that what they use would only be absorbed by the tree's roots  Well, those roots go into the other planting areas.  First, he's going to inspect the tree to see if it is safe, then he'll trim it so it doesn't grow into the house. He said it may need to come down.  I have huge mixed feelings about that.  When I went to look it up, there were different kinds of borers, and I couldn't remember which kind he thought they were.

I've mentioned that Larry and his dad moved the tree to this spot from the alley behind a neighbor's house when it was about 4 feet tall.  Larry said it was the summer of 1963.

I took some photos today to post in case some of you can tell what's going on. 

Here are a couple of the holes.

One thing I found in my search, was that holes from woodpeckers tend to be in a row, and when it's borers, the holes are more random.  There are a few randomish, but most look like this:

I'm not sure if these moist looking spots are anything to be concerned about.

When I was about to take a photo of the loose bark, I noticed something underneath one of the loose places.

Do you know what kind of critter this is going to be?

Since there is a chance the tree may have to come down, I decided to post more photos to honor it.  The next photo was taken April 25, 2010.  I don't remember if the "helicopters" had graced ours and the neighbors' yards yet. The helicopters are a pain, but I have seen squirrels eating them.  I think I wouldn't miss them if they were gone.

This photo, taken May 8, shows a couple branches getting awfully close to our house.  (Added Monday afternoon:  I was just looking at my photos, and noticed what I'm pretty sure are the "helicopters" from the tree all over the yard and in the curb area.)

This was also taken May 8.  It's one of the few photos that show how tall the tree is.

I had fun seeing what all was blooming at different times of the year as I found photos of the tree.  This one is from May 18.

This one is from June 2.  I don't remember why I took photos of it in the dark.

The next two are from June 25.  You can see the two branches that are getting too close to the house.

July 20th:

 August 2:

October 6:

On October 30th, the leaves were turning their fall colors.

The next two are from November 3rd.

I take a lot of photos from this angle of the tree.  If it gets cut down, I am going to miss it.

By December 3rd, the leaves were off of the tree.

If you had to have the tree cut down, would you leave the stump, or have it removed?  If we leave the stump, I could put pots and such on it, but I don't think we'd be able to plant another tree.  I really think this tree is too big for the spot it is in.  I wonder what would be a good kind of tree to plant here that would do well, and not get too big.  We really should have a tree there.  I just don't want to use pesticides unless I know for sure they won't hurt the other insects on the property, and will save the tree.  If it is already weakened and unhealthy, I want to get it down now.  We have had some pretty big branches fall off when it's windy.  I feel bad that I don't really know how to take good care of trees.  I will need to learn.  I don't think this one has ever been pruned.  I don't even know if all trees are supposed to be pruned.


  1. Seems to me you've given that tree a lot of love.

  2. It'd be a shame to lose the tree, as it has such beauty and character, but these things happen.

    I enjoyed seeing your garden through the seasons ~ lovely!

  3. I like the idea of leaving the stump in place, or even leaving it a little larger than a stump for a sculpture. Our Home and Garden show has plenty of those home displays selling things, but they are in a different building, and I don't even bother going over there!

  4. Oh Wow Sue, what a conundrum! Have you seen the garden benches made from the trunk of old trees? It is basically nothing more than a quarter of the tree trunk cut away - an area for sitting on.

    One think you may notice is having to adjust your thermostat - losing the shade makes a huge difference!

  5. I think you must have taken that picture in the dark because you knew that a picture of the white underside of the leaves would make an awesome, kinda spooky picture!

    This was a very sweet record of a year in the life of a special tree, and of your garden, which I enjoyed very much. I do hope you don't have to take it down. I wish I could help you identify the problem, but I don't know enough about trees either.

  6. I don't know the problem with the borers, but I would get a second opinion. All trees have problems here and there. My neighbor called me after I moved from my house, that there was a water main break and they had to cut my tree down dig up the roots at the old house. Changed the look of the whole neighborhood.I would hate to lose that beautiful shade tree.

  7. That is a large tree! Sorry to hear about the borers. We had a borer problem on our Peach tree last year and we doused it with organic pesticide. Don't know if it helped at all. We shall see if the tree comes back to life this spring. It's only a few years old. So not sure if it did too much damage. I hope you don't have to cut down that tree too much.

    BTW, I saw your comment about whether I have ever posted any photos of my kitchen. I actually hate my kitchen it's stuck in the 70s so I don't like to take photos of it. My husband and I have plans to gut the kitchen and redo it, but we are saving money now to do the renovation. Hopefully next year if we are lucky!

  8. Oh, what a pity if the tree has to come down! It's a beautiful specimen tree. I tend to agree...get a second opinion before you make any decisions.

  9. Hi Sue, maybe you can still save the biggest part of the tree. The smaller branches can be pruned as well as those leaning to your house, they will shoot again and the canopy will be smaller. It is a pitty and already a big oxygen generator, which you have been benefitting from.

  10. Hi,

    It's a lovely tree but sadly sometimes they get diseases and there's little we can do about it. However look at it as a new, fun adventure and you could get something else in its place.
    I think I'd go for some nice nature-friendly trees, natives or ones which attract plenty of insects and other wildlife.
    I can't speak for US trees but something like a Hawthorn in the UK, provides berries, flowers and safety for plenty of wildlife.
    Then I think I'd have a medium sized acer for wonderful Autumnal colours.

    Good luck, I hope the tree doesn't have to go!

  11. PLEASE get a second opinion, maybe your State Extension service has an expert, for example. Someone who won't be making any money off of the deal no mater what is best. Have had terrible experiences with commercial tree "experts" here in Virginia.


  12. That is one beautiful tree. I'm so sorry you'll be having to lose it.

    I agree with Cecilia about getting a second opinion, though. Maybe there's something natural that you could pack the holes with, or a natural predator you could introduce into the area.

    Loved your pictures.

  13. Sue, what a coincidence! We are having a tree man come today and take out three trees and do some extensive trimming. I blogged about it this morning.

    I hate loosing trees but sometimes it has to be done.
    We have existing damage to lots of screens from the soft maples in the front breaking off during the tornado and sticking in the screens.

    Some of the boring could be wood peckers, those in a straight line around the circumference. I have never seen anything like that mass coming out of the tree. I would try to have the country forester take a look before making a decision about removal.
    You can see what our tree man told me about patching holes in trees in the blog.

    I hate for you to loose that tree!
    The forester will tell you about size and how close to the house a tree should be. Now that being said, you can always plant a small tree very close, but it won't give you much shade but be better than nothing.
    If memory serves large trees should be at least 50 feet from the foundation, but I am not sure.

    I love seeing all the flowers in bloom. May is a great time because of the iris.

  14. Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I forgot to mention that the guy said something about the tree splitting into two trees at some point in the past.

    Also, I've been wanting to do a post about the guy down the block who does wood sculptures with saws. I thought of hiring him to do something, but the cost could be almost as high as having the stump taken out. A bench wouldn't be as expensive, though.

    Our son thinks leaving the stump would attract termites. We really do need to call the extension office.

  15. I agree with everyone else. Have a second opinion, with UNL's extension office. I have better luck with the UNL state farm here in NP as they are not competing for money as the nurseries or land scaping companies.
    Your home is so adorable, I love it. A very loved home.
    Take care, we are supposed to have good weather this week for us to garden in.!

  16. I would leave it alone, think how big a tree would get in your lifetime. I don't see loss of foliage and many trees have a few critters, that is all part of their ecosystem.Sounds like you need a teen around to help with some of the simple things like fence.Wish I was closer and I would do it for free. HA!

  17. I would leave it there unless they think it's hollow on the inside and likely to flop over onto your house. We had an enormous hackberry shade tree next to our house that we had to take down last year. It was hollow on the inside.

  18. I hate losing a tree. It takes so many years for them to become mature and offer shade. If the tree is sick I'd have it removed though and the stump too. Maybe plant a flowering tree. They usually don't get too huge for a very long time.

  19. I don't know much about the treatment they want to do. My experience with borers is limited to the ash-lilac borer. I think I would do some research on exactly what they want to treat with and exactly the borer you're looking at. Maybe a second opionion. I would keep as much of the tree as possible unless it is a hazard to your home. Good luck.

  20. I always get a certified arborist or two to give me their opinion. Taking a tree down is a big decision. it will give you a lot more sun, but also take away the shade on your house during the long hot Nebraska summer! Good luck~ gail ps You have a charming house and garden year round!

  21. I sure like this font, Sue. I know nothing about large trees and wonder about mine. I hope you'll keep us posted.

  22. I hope you make the best decision with so many thoughts and comments to consider.
    It was a memorable tree in your garden - that's for sure.

  23. Your place is adorable, and certainly the loss of that tree would be sad! Your house will look naked! LOL And the loss of shade. Around here, for some reason people have been cutting down so many trees. In my sisters neighborhood, when you stand in her backyard and look over the block there are almost no trees and none of any real size. Thus they are inundated with starlings and house sparrows, who are nesting in droves in eaves, spouting, etc. And the temp in the yards is noticeably higher.

    Several years ago the local airport came through and cut down about 8 trees in the my yard. Nothing but problems since, with erosion (some were holding the stream bank together), it allowed the japanese knotweed to take over both sides of the bank, and there was a loss of wind breaks. The first wind storm some neighbors had significant damage from fly away awnings, etc.

    So definately not something to take lightly. If it has to go, I love someones suggestion of the bench.

    You could consider something like an eastern redbud tree. They grow at a nice rate and are native, I think, as far as Nebraska. You could call your local conservation district though for the best suggestion on what would be good choices to plant.

  24. You have such a beautiful garden spot! I love that picture sequence with all the variety.
    I think there are so many choices for trees if it comes to that.
    I'd say go around your neighborhood and see what grow the best and looks healthy.
    I have native pecan which I DON'T recommend. If they gave an award for messiest tree, it would be in the running.

  25. What a fun post. .showcasing your yard through the seasons. .lovely gardens for sure!! Good luck with the tree. .hope it works out well. .whichever way you have to go!

  26. I'm sorry you're having a dilemma with your beautiful tree. I wish I knew more about trees, I've been discovering all the things I should have done better with mine. I suppose gardeners never stop learning. If you are considering getting someone to treat it with a chemical I'd suggest asking to be given a Material Safety Data Sheet for the chemical first so that you can make an informed decision.
    You have such a pretty house.


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