Sometimes We Need to Say Good Bye to a Tree

Last year my next door neighbors approached me about the pear tree that was located in my yard but overhung into their yard. Now this was not an ornamental pear tree, but a fruiting pear tree, one that would shed partially ripened pears in droves and trying to keep up with them was nearly impossible. It would result in the dropped pears becoming "lovely" bee and wasp magnets and both my neighbors and I have dogs – so you can probably see where that thought process was headed.

When they approached me, they told me they had been in contact with someone to get a quote for trimming the tree on just their side and the cost for total removal. For anyone that knows me or has read any of my numerous articles, you know I love trees, so if I consider having a tree taken down there is reason for it. This pear tree was already quite large when I moved into my house almost 5 years ago and since then it had another 5 years' worth of growth. It was already in poor structural shape when I moved in (and pears that go unpruned – ornamentals included, are notorious for poor structure) and trying to control the fruit set on a tree that large wasn't feasible either, so removal was really the best option. Removing the tree wouldn't really affect me all that much, my vegetable garden location would get more sun in the morning, but the neighbor's house would be exposed to afternoon sun from which it was previously shaded, they would get the worse end of the deal with the tree coming down. We decided that the best course of action was complete removal of the tree and would happen sometime in late spring/early summer the following year.

On Monday May 29, 2017 – I sat on my back porch as I heard the sound of chainsaws and of branches being removed fill the air. Was I sad? Of course I was, but I also needed to be reasonable in this situation. I also watched them take down the half-dead apple tree at the very back of the yard that I had asked them to do since they were already going to be working in my yard. It was a sad day as I stopped to think of the number of trees that I have removed over the years from my property for various reasons – invasive mulberries, trees growing directly on the backside of the garage, a large hackberry that was damaged during a storm. All in all, I think there now been 9 trees removed from my yard, but there was purpose and reason for their removal. I have planted new trees on my property and with the removal of poor quality trees, it gives me more ability to plan and utilize the space better.

So what is the moral of the story? Yes we need trees, yes we want to plant more trees, and I will always encourage planting trees. Yet there are times when a tree is no longer suitable (invasive) or has become overgrown or poses a safety risk (storm damaged trees, trees struck by lightning, etc.) and removal is justified. It can be a hard decision to realize that a tree needs to be removed and it can also be expensive. As a quick note – if you do decide to remove a tree from your property – having a professional arborist remove it is a worthwhile investment. Having someone that understands how to properly fell a tree or bring a large tree down is for your safety, but also for preventing damage to structures such as homes, garages, and fences. I think we've all seen the various videos on the Internet that show someone trying to take down a tree without the knowledge of how to safely and properly fell a tree and it ending poorly and expensively.

If you are wondering whether a not a tree needs to come down – is it invasive, is it in poor condition, does it pose a risk, there are various sources you can use to help evaluate your tree. Certified Arborists are trained in evaluating trees and knowing what needs to be done to keep trees in good health as well as knowing when it's time to remove a tree. Your local Extension office can help to identify your tree as well as help in diagnosing health issues. Remember – there are times that trees do need to be removed and that's okay. Remember, when you go to plant a new tree make sure look at tree diversity (avoiding planting the same things over and over) as well as right plant, right place.