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Cutting down obstructive trees in backyard?

 
Aldous Vonnegut
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Hello all,

Last year, I tried starting a few raised beds in my backyard, but they failed due to being covered by enormous trees which prevented the plants from getting sunlight. The plants only were able to receive a couple hours of sunlight per day, and hence faired miserably. There are about 6 huge (I need to emphasize that these are very large) trees in my backyard that need to be cut down in order for me to tend a garden. After looking over the area, there is only one area that the tree can fall so it does not harm surrounding homes. My questions are: has any other urban gardener had this problem? And also, what is the best and least expensive way to get the trees cut down? I feel like it can get very expensive very fast, and I do not have a lot of money to spend. It is just very frustrating because there is no way for a garden to flourish unless these trees are cut down.

Paul Wheaton--given your expertise, I especially want to hear your thoughts.

Please let me know.
 
Zach Muller
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Best rates I have found were from the Forman of the company that tends to the trees under power lines. I saw them in the area and went out to talk to them about wood mulch, next thing I know we are talking about all the sad trees on the lot how they will need removal soon and he is quoting the lowest prices ever. I guess he had his own tree trimming service on the side.
 
Aldous Vonnegut
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Zach Muller wrote:Best rates I have found were from the Forman of the company that tends to the trees under power lines. I saw them in the area and went out to talk to them about wood mulch, next thing I know we are talking about all the sad trees on the lot how they will need removal soon and he is quoting the lowest prices ever. I guess he had his own tree trimming service on the side.


About what were the rates per tree?
 
casey lem
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Do the trees absolutely need to come down, or could you trim a little to filter sunlight? As far as rates, we had a large branch over our power lines. I called the power company and they came out for free. Might be an option. Also, I find I'm always running into friends/ co workers who know someone who has a tree trimming business, might find a deal if you look. If the trees do com down you can always use the wood another way.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Aldous - a few questions.

Are any of the trees in poor health? If so, choose that tree for removal. Removing trees is kind of an ethical question in permaculture as trees provide so much benefit for landscapes. Would an alternate route be to rent a plot at a community garden? Alternatively you could grow shade-loving plants. If you could provide your location, people in the same climate zone could help you out with that. Berries and mushrooms come to mind but there are many others.

Can you grow plants in pots in sunny locations?

Judicious pruning can be done on trees to allow more light to come through without completely cutting down the tree. I don't know about local tree trimmers in your area but here in Phoenix I would only hire a certified arborist to do this kind of pruning. The "landscapers" tend to butcher things pretty badly.
 
R Scott
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Where are you located? Shade can be a problem in the north, but in the south you often NEED shade to keep from cooking your plants. Cutting them all down may do more harm than good.

Make sure you keep shade on your house if at all possible. I would move the garden, maybe even give it up, before I cut shade trees for the house. I would love to have shade to cut the electric bill.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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From hanging out with Paul, I think he would be in favor of removing the tree(s). Paul prefers larger systems to urban systems, so in his view, you take out the trees where you want to grow things, and grow more trees in a healthier, managed woodland system in you outer zones. An urban setting could be treated similarly, though your outer zones might be public spaces, parks, or adjoining properties.

I found this thread when I was searching for a place to post this incredible tree removal video.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1450767261845493

Just an epic job. It's a FaceBook video, though I think FB changed their stuff so that any public videos and pics can still be viewed even by folks without a FB account.
 
Charles Tarnard
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Depending on all sorts of factors, your beds could have failed in spite of the shade. I've found that very often 'prefers full sun' is code for 'prefers full sun if you're out there with a hose every damn day desperately trying to give your plants enough water to overcome their ridiculous growth rate and evaporation.'

This may not be you. I'd just look very carefully at your situation to be certain that excessive shade is your problem before getting rid of it. Good shade takes time to get back.
 
Tom Kozak
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Location: Sudbury ON, Canada
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do you have enough space/time to store/season the wood? a guy near my parents house had a big old tree cut down (it was beginning to show signs of dying unfortunately) and paid to have it milled and has been storing/seasoning the wood for years now. slowly he has been selling it to local craftspeople and the like and is actually going to MAKE money on the project, even after paying professionals to do all the work!
 
james Apodaca
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casey lem wrote:Do the trees absolutely need to come down, or could you trim a little to filter sunlight? As far as rates, we had a large branch over our power lines. I called the power company and they came out for free. Might be an option. Also, I find I'm always running into friends/ co workers who know someone who has a tree trimming business, might find a deal if you look. If the trees do com down you can always use the wood another way.


I agree with that sentiment. Trimming out the branches that don't get as much sunlight because others have grown around them does WONDERS for sun penetration. If they are all healthy committing to managing them might be more beneficial than taking them out in the long run.

I have 12 (palms/oaks) trees in my backyard that provide all sorts of compost fodder, wood chips, habitat for the squirrels and birds that raid my garden, a spot to hang ferns and orchids and air plants, free dragon fruit trellis, shade for the garden and pets.. the list of products of a tree is numerous that aren't quite obvious. I could easily trim two branches off the oak hammock, without setting it back much, to COMPLETELY change the solar dynamic of my yard. Studying your shade envelop could help define the areas you need to prune back.

Sadly, I'm moving and my new yard is a blank, sun poached, slate.. with poor soil and oddly enough there's a large stump in the backyard..

Also, In my area the power company doesn't trim lines between the pole and the house, just between poles on their right of way.. that's the home owners responsibility to source a licensed contractor. So don't be surprised if your utility company declines the maintenance on any wires.
 
Blake Wheeler
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Location: Kentucky 6b
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I'd advise considering all options before you get to cutting. It's not an "ethical" decision for me, just the simple fact that trees take a long time to regrow to that size and once it's down it's down. Like mentioned, the area you're in would help. Also, what are you trying to grow that failed? What's the soil like? Is the soil deficient in any way? Many factors to consider besides just shade. A previous poster mentioned it, but I've noticed it too. The sun requirements of most plants are flexible.

Tree removal is expensive for sure. I would imagine most of the expense is to cover liability. Honestly the cheapest way is to borrow a chainsaw. Or buy a friend a case of beer to drop it for ya, then cut it up yourself once it's down. If nothing else cut it out piece by piece, no one said you had to drop the whole thing at once, and with really big trees in tight quarters you often can't. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, or safe (chainsaws and tons of falling wood are dangerous lol) then really the only option is to hire it out. It's honestly not hard to do, but it can cost a lot if you mess up and drop it on your, or another's, house/property, damage the company would absorb if you hired out.
 
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