December 4, 2008
Some Trees are like Teenagers . . .
. . . or toddlers (or fill in the blank with the age of your kids) . . . they make a big mess that someone else has to clean up! I was reminded of this picture when reading a post from Floridian blogger about some of his palm trees (though no doubt his are well-cared for and tidy). The palm fronds in the picture above came down from a tree in the neighboring apartment complex during a windstorm. We counted nearly 100 of them in our tiny yard, and they were each 6 feet long. The sides of the fronds were lined with very sharp, inch-long thorns. Some of them got caught in the nearby dawn redwood tree (another messy tree in suburbia, though it's perfect in a forest) and threatened to fall on my kiddos if they played outside on a breezy day. Lesson learned: when you plant a tree, be prepared for the maintenance that will be required when it gets big.
Other trees that are better kept out of small suburban yards: Colorado Blue spruce - who has room for a 30-foot-wide-at-the-base tree? And they're so unsightly with lower branches trimmed and knobby scars showing.
Dawn redwood - who needs a 300 foot tall tree shedding a continuous stream of twigs into their yard?
Poplars & Norway maples - their weak wood means branches could break off and smash your windows, cars, kids.
Quaking aspens - they'll eventually send up hundreds of suckers in an attempt to take over your yard. This I know from experience. The previous owners gifted me with three quaking aspens, plus their numerous babies. Removing them is on the project list for next year.
Lest this become a rant, I should note that there is an appropriate place for almost any tree. I love to see aspen leaves dancing in the wind on a mountainside. Perhaps a pasture would be graced by a giant, fast-growing poplar - if it falls over in a windstorm, it won't hit any houses. Other trees are best enjoyed in the forest or on a 5-acre spread.