At some point, tree removal is inevitable. This is because trees are living organisms that grow, live awhile (in some cases, a loooong while), then get sick or injured, decline and then die. There are actually many legitimate reasons to take out a tree but I wanted to detail out my personal top ten: dead/ dying, unsightly, blocking a view, killing a more desirable plant, damaging landscape/ structures, drops nuisance fruit, has excessive sucker growth, causes allergic reactions, attractive to undesirable insects and it costs too much to maintain.
A dead or dying tree that is in the back forty of your property might actually be an asset to the overall urban ecosystem. But a dead tree that has a high risk of falling down or dropping limbs on a valuable “target” is not worth the risk of personal injury or potential liability. These trees can be considered hazardous which are dangerous for even a professional to remove as dead wood is more fragile and has a higher risk of failure than green wood.
Killing a More Desirable Plant
Competition is not only a word we use to describe capitalism and sporting events. Plants are fierce competitors where Darwinism reigns supreme unless we intercede. The most common method of competition is to grow thick and tall aka shading out anything smaller that was planted too close. I have seen many newly installed landscapes where a homeowner has a few blissful years and then they have to decide: do I keep the tree or all the other plants? That can be really frustrating when you have spent a lot of money putting your landscape together. Shading out is not even close to the only weapon in a plants arsenal. Have you noticed that there are very few weeds underneath a mature evergreen? This is because an evergreen is actually constantly dropping needles and those needles are slightly acidic. If the tree is in place long enough it can start to adjust the pH in the surrounding soil. Even slight changes in pH can cause some plants to thrive and others to decline and eventually even die. There are many other ways trees compete with each other but these two are some of the most common.
Damaging a Landscape/ Structures
While not all trees will produce roots that are strong enough to lift sidewalks, penetrate foundations or shift water lines it is not unheard of either. There are also times where a tree is left to grow right next to a fence line or high value barn and it starts to either entirely envelope or cause abrasion damage to sidings, gutters, trim etc…
Drops Nuisance Fruit
If you have not had a major run in with a nuisance fruit tree you might think that this wouldn’t be something worth removing a mature tree over. But even a small cottonwood can drop what feels like whole fields worth of fluff which will quickly coat everything in the landscape. Then this cotton fluff gets tracked into your house, your car and even the dog’s fur. Cottonwood trees are by no means the only trees that drop unwanted fruit: crabapples with their fruit, maple’s with their “helicopters”, honeylocusts with their pods and even a full blown fruit tree that was planted too close to a sidewalk or driveway.
Has Excessive Sucker Growth
Excessive sucker growth can cause your tree to look more like a shrub if they are not cut off at the base. These can be incredibly frustrating, especially in the lawn, since there is no very effective preventative treatment for them and they should not be sprayed with any kind of weed killer. At least unless you are trying to cause dieback in the trees canopy as well as killing the suckers. Cottonwoods, poplars, Sustina plum, Bradford pear and Chokecherry are some of the most common trees in our area that can be guilty of root suckers.
Frankly, an ugly tree is not as rare you might expect. It could have gotten that way in any number of ways but if it is an eyesore then you will never love it and most people don’t want to spend money to maintain a tree that they don’t feel adds value to their property.
Blocking a View
This generally happens one of three ways: a tree you planted grows up and is taller/ wider than anticipated, the tree was already there and nobody knew it was blocking the view or a new property owner knew it was blocking a vista that they liked and they planned to remove it from the beginning.
Causes Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions range from “seasonal allergies” to a contact rash to “needs an epi-pen stat”. If a homeowner gets a rash every time they try to trim their viburnum then they will either need to layer up, remove the plant or pay someone else to prune it. Layering up might not even be an option if the reaction involves the respiratory tract.
Attractive to Undesirable Insects
This one can sometimes go hand in hand with “Causing Allergic Reactions” but it addresses a secondary affect as opposed to being the problem directly. If you have someone that is highly allergic to wasps/ bees then it is much preferred to remove a plant that is going to attract them than to spray something that might injure them. Boxelder trees and the boxelder bug are an example of a specific tree that attracts a specific insect that can become a major pest.
Costs too Much to Maintain
Finally you might have a tree that has a constant need to be pruned. This could be due to dieback, natural branch shedding or most commonly, the wrong tree in the wrong place. What I mean by that is that if a tree with a potential to grow to an undesirable max height is placed in the wrong location it will inevitably need to be constantly pruned or removed.
Whatever the reason you are thinking of to remove a tree we advise getting help from a source that is reputable and insured. You do not want to pay for someone else’s hospital bill. Avoid the headache and just get the proper help. We also always recommend replacing a tree whenever you decide to remove one if it is at all possible. More and more of our planets square footage is being switched over from native ecosystems to urban environments and as that happens it is going to be critical for all of us to maintain as much canopy cover as possible.