Urban Logging

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by KarinL, May 2, 2006.

  1. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Our neighbour has a gigantic evergreen tree that I think is a Chamaecyparis lawsoniana; probably a century old with a good-sized single trunk. I am thinking about asking him to take it down as it is eating our house (not his, just ours) and completely dominating a good portion of our yard (a 25 foot lot; we don't have much to start with), not to mention the nightmares it generates of it falling on us on windy days. Understanding the shame of cutting a nice big tree (I've lived with the tree for 14 years, trying to find a way to co-exist peacefully), I think it would be even more of a shame to see it just go to firewood. I wonder (a) whether there are tree companies that harvest (rather than just chop up) trees in the city, and (b) whether this type of tree would have any value as timber?
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    if it gives you nightmares, does it have any visible defects that would suggest it is prone to failure? as it has survived a long time and many spectacular wind events without failing so far.....

    A reputable tree company would likely find a market for the timber if it is available. suggest it to any companies that may view the tree to estimate the removal project and digest their response. Check to see if this tree is a heritage tree or if it is protected by any bylaws before anyone fires up a chainsaw.

    and just for the record, where is this tree located? a 100 year old lawson cypress must be one heck of a tree, I would like to see it before it is euthanized.
     
  3. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    It is one heck of a tree, I have to admit, and the neighbour has investigated heritage tree issues but there don't appear to be any restrictions, though of course no one wants to see the tree taken down, inlcuding me (note I said "I'm thinking of asking..."). If only it weren't competing with me for control of my property. In fact when I stated its 100 year age to a guy on the phone at the city (Vancouver), he said dismissively, although he didn't know the type of tree "well those things can get to be 800 years old!" As if that was going to be a good idea for whoever lives on my lot for the next 700 years.

    The issue does beg the question of how big and how close an urban tree should be allowed to get, and how its effects are parcelled out among neighbours, and in fact rather than showing the tree and asking about it, I'd sooner discuss some objective parameters for tree decision-making. I've been looking at other big trees and seeing how they are situated, and notice that in many cases the ones that are really big are squarely on the properties of the people who have decided to cede their lots to them. In this case, however, my neighbours have decided to cede my lot to the tree.

    Safety is really less the issue that interests me than how people can live around the tree before it falls down.

    How big a tree can an urban environment carry? What are the limiting factors?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Have a consulting arborist or three look at it and make a Hazard Tree Evaluation. It would be interesting to see a photo of it here as well.
     
  5. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    The minute there is an acual tree to discuss, then opinions polarize for and against it. There are a zillion trees; there must be parameters one can work within, given a healthy tree.

    But the point is taken that perhaps I should investigate the hazard issue more directly, although the arborists the neighbour has had in have apparently told him there is no danger (though he had one company in that I don't like). And it does look alarmingly healthy; it probably could last another 700 years. But even if it is healthy, Ron, how tall a conifer would you live next to?

    Also I should have said thanks, Jimmy, for the point that any arborist would factor in timber value to a felling decision.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2006
  6. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Karin, you are right about the polarization, and there are many who would attack you for daring to even consider your needs over those of what is likely a very spectacular tree. The reality of a 25 foot lot doesn't leave much human space around a 100 foot conifer. Your neighbor would never be allowed to maintain any non-living structure that protruded into your "air space" and no one would fault you for demanding it's removal.

    I suspect the legal or regulatory path towards a tree removal is anything but clear, and I'm not suggesting it should be easy, but one parameter of judging a tree's continued existance should definitely be intrusion into neighboring properties.

    I inherited a beautiful cedar hedge two homes ago that had been allowed to grow out of control till the neighbor had to cut a tunnel to get to his garage at the rear of his property. The remaining lop sided trees were incredibly ugly (and about 30 feet tall). We finished the removal and replaced the hedge with a fence and several cedars set back from the property line. That was 13 years ago and I recently noticed the new owners had removed one of those trees (the other two are now about 25 feet tall) and replaced it with a new and smaller tree.

    My point is that urban landscaping is as much about maintenance as selection and retention. These trees are not to be treated with disrespect, but neither are they sacred.

    Ralph
     
  7. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Thank you Ralph, and I agree about defining the task of urban maintenance as an ongoing one. One of the things that annoys me is that with the tree the size that it is, it is impossible to start any replacement stock around it (not that that prevents me from trying). If it is removed now it will be like a moonscape around here for a while. But someone could have thought of doing this some 50 years ago, and this tree removed maybe 40 years ago. If a tree is planted on a lot every ten years, and a tree removed every ten years, then there should always be good shade and air. In a sense, it is the failure of many generations of homeowners to make a tough decision that leaves me and my current neighbour with a VERY tough decision to make now.
     
  8. Helen Leung

    Helen Leung Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Karin,

    Both of my neighbours had just cut down their trees on either side of my house. One of them was cutting it down to build a new house and the other one cut it down because I told them that their tree roots were going into my sewerline. Not sure if you remember my garden but it definately feels "weird" to see all that sky all of a sudden. Both trees must've been at least 100 feet high

    Anyway, it all depends on how your neighbour is like. A good neighbour would at least get someone to prune out some of the branches out for you. Is that an option for you?

    As to my situation, it costed $800 to cut the tree down and we splitted the bill. Vancouver bylaw allows you to cut down one tree on your property as long as you get a permit which is about $40. Good luck and keep us posted.

    Helen
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Helen, I've had a hint of what it feels like to suddenly have open space as the neighbour did, in fact, just limb the tree up for the first time since we've lived here; previously the bottom branches were around head level, and as they grew and sagged and the ground rose with the tree's continuous shedding I had ceased going "in" that part of the yard; I can now stand up in there, and see across the street, and although the plants that grow there will still have to deal with massive root competition at least they will have some light. Also, although the tree still overhangs our house, at least it no longer envelops it, and we can get to the eaves to clean them.

    I do remember your yard as being surrounded by trees, and so can appreciate the magnitude of the change. Your situation reinforces the point that when urban tree issues are dealt with on a lot-by-lot basis, some people (and plants) are completely at the mercy of decisions being made by others.
     
  10. Geoff Lewis

    Geoff Lewis Member

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    Lawson cypress are an introduced species, so the tree is unlikely to be over 100 years old, or is unlikely to be a Lawson cypress. The species is prone to a root fungus which has killed many of them around the Lower Mainland. They just turn rust-coloured and stay rust-coloured. A tall, healthy conifer can have many of its lower limbs removed, as naturally happens in mature forests. It is, of course, challenging to garden beneath mature trees, because of root competition. Hope some of this helps.
     

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