Monday, July 6, 2009

Logging Trees for Kids Sake??

In the last week, I've chopped down over 10 trees (okay, while I have been known to chop a few myself, these were beyond my handsaw capabilities, so it was not actually me doing the work). What good reason could I possibly have for cutting down these trees? Is there some remote way to justify this as "for the kids"? Well, actually, yes...

Cutting down dead trees may not be environmentally-correct in the forest, but when the tree is next to your house, it most definitely is the right thing to do. We have a cabin in the woods near the Cascade Mountains with tons of trees. We watched a tall white fir die over the past few years and then spent a year worrying that it may fall through the house one day. Bad idea. Never wait to remove a dead 140 foot tall tree! I hired the best logger in town (that's him in the tree, if you look closely) and even he was quaking in his boots after climbing the tree. If you have never seen a major tree taken down, let me tell you, it's an event. After watching the top 50 or so feet fall and literally shatter because it was so rotten, he started sawing small chunks off the top. The kids were duly impressed as he threw them to the ground. Eventually, we were down to a manageable 70 foot tree that he expertly felled right between two houses. Just feeling the ground shake was amazing. The picture below shows it on its way down.

Back at home, I had even more tree removal projects... First, let's start with the prickly tree. My kids have begged me to take this tree down for years. It is a Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and I've been told it is a very nice tree. The problem is that it also happens to be second base in our very narrow kickball field in the backyard. On top of that, it seems to eat balls of all sizes - baseballs, basketballs, tennis balls. This is generally followed by a "I'm not going in the prickly tree. You go get it." exchange between my children that never ends up well. Out went the tree.

Next up, the three aspens. I love the sound of their leaves blowing in the wind, but I've also discovered they are responsible for the large number of insanely tall vines growing in my yard. I've since learned that these are called "suckers" which should really be the name for people like me that hold on to these trees. Truly, they are just weeds and not good for the environment. Out went three more trees.

The front yard was the last area to tackle. The problem here was that it was planted nearly 20 years ago by someone who clearly never contemplated the full-grown size of trees and shrubs. Ideally, I would like to be able to see my kids playing in front of the house when I look out the window or step out onto the front porch. All, I could see was an evergreen forest (and our pug). Out went a half-dozen more trees and various overgrown shrubs.
So what have I learned? 1) Remove dead trees before they become dangerous trees. 2) Don't plant prickly trees where kids want to play. 3) Always plan ahead for the maximum size of the tree. 4) No matter how much you like the plant, don't keep it if it is an invasive weed. Look out, English Ivy- you're next on my list!
And, finally, 5) chain-saws, stump grinders, and tree-climbers can provide great entertainment for kids on a summer day!

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