The Trouble with Trees

When last we left you, dear reader, Melissa and I were filling up a thirty yard dumpster with all manner of greenery.  Laurels, garden plants that got too big for their britches, and a seemingly unending supply of fir branches, fir cones, fir needles and other fir inspired detritus.

Our nemesis, the 30 yard dumpster

In short, we have a firry yard. Before this week, we had 37 fir trees, two big maples and one scruffy looking cedar tree.  These are all big trees, most are a couple of feet in diameter and the biggest are almost four feet in diameter and perhaps 150 feet tall.

As we prepare the house for rent this fall, one of the biggest, prettiest trees needed to be addressed. With its two crowns, we had been warned that this could be a weak area and might be a danger.  It is very close to our house, near the kitchen and we have worried that one day a winter storm will bring part of it down onto the roof.  That has already happened once, with a branch crashing into our kitchen, smashing a large picture window.

I should add that we struggled mightily with taking out this tree.  It has been standing guard over our house for the last 54 years and in the summer it offers wonderful shade. While I am glad to be rid of the mess that it makes on our roof and the risk that it poses to our house, killing something this old and beautiful is not to be taken lightly.

We haven’t counted the rings yet but we are guessing about 150 years old.

Melissa solicited a number of tree services to take out this big tree plus two or three smaller trees that would give us more light in the yard.  We knew pretty quickly who we wanted to work on our property.  John Sperry is just starting out with his own company, Arbor Services Northwest, after working for years for other tree companies.  Together with his partner, Naomi, they put together an affordable bid.  Perhaps more importantly, they gave both Melissa and myself a sense that they cared about the trees and for the safety of our house and themselves.

John taking down a small, scraggly fir.

In addition to the large tree in the back,  we had John and his team take out four smaller firs and a cedar tree in the front yard.  These trees were not huge but they shaded the yard quite a bit and a few near the road  had grown too close to the fence.  John also limbed up a few trees including our big maple.

This beautiful maple had branches that nearly touched the ground. John gave it a trim.

The big fir, almost four feet in diameter was a challenge.  To tackle that tree, John brought in a friend, Luiz, who had bigger saws and more experience bringing down such large trees.  Luiz also brought a huge chipper to help with the cleanup.  A tree this size creates a lot debris.

Luiz worikng his way up the tree

Just another day on the job for Luiz. This tree had a double crown which gave it really big canopy. Sometimes these crowns are weak and can break off in a storm.

While bringing down big trees is interesting and exciting,  cleaning up the debris, moving plants and taking down fences is just as important and a lot of work.  Melissa and I were out in the yard every day, moving things along as best we could. I think we are both constitutionally incapable of not pitching in when there is work to be done.

Michael saying goodbye to the big fir.

Melissa surveys the carnage.

As you may have noticed, that is a lot of wood.  How did we get rid of it you ask? While it would be lovely to imagine these trees being used as lumber for our mountain cabin, the reality is that you just can’t bring down a whole tree this close to our house, near power lines and all the other structures in an old neighborhood. So, the trees were brought down in sections, none longer that ten feet, and then John would cut them in sixteen inch long rounds that could be split. Then we rolled the big stuff around to the side of the house.  Even cut down to sixteen inches, this big tree was a lot of work to move.

After the tree was down and cut into somewhat more manageable sizes, John put the word out on OfferUp.com and we had trucks coming all day to pick up wood.  In the Pacific Northwest, many people still heat their homes with wood in the winter time; some people have no other source of heat and free firewood is quite a windfall.

Get yer free wood here!

With that big project complete, we can finish making the yard and garden spaces more manageable.  Melissa has been aggressively clearing the beds and giving away plants. I have gotten the greenhouse cleared out and have been repairing rotted fence posts. Which is more work, a house or a boat?

Sistering in new supports for some of the more rotten fence posts. A good excuse to use our new generator. That will be going back to the boat with us.

While we have been working hard on the house, I did find time to try out the new paddle board.  It seems very stable on grass. We have another one on order. We are really looking forward to having these in Mexico.

Our new Aqua Marine Magma SUP. Water not included

8 thoughts on “The Trouble with Trees

  1. That must have been such a hard decision to take down that tree. I’m a little (okay more than a little) afraid of heights so looking at those pictures of the guys way up high in the trees made me nervous for them.

    • We were committed to taking out the tree. It was on our minds for some time. But it was still difficult. We secretly hoped that the tree have some rotten core or a structural defect that would justify the decision after the fact. But that tree and all the others were really quite healthy. It felt a bit like putting down a pet because it might bite the mailman. Unfortunately, you can’t adopt out a 150 foot tree.

    • Yes it was good to see the wood going to some use. For years we had cords of wood stacked up to burn in our wood stove. But Melissa is somewhat allergic to the fir, so we stopped using it. We burn the presto logs now on occasion but it isn’t the same.

  2. Wonderful, clear explanation and photos, Mike. I can identify, as we had a 300 year old tree to finish taking down, after Mother Nature in the form of a storm took the top half of ours down, which landed just a short distance from our roof – inches, really. Thanks for a really great posting!

    • Thanks Joanne. It is unnerving to have these big trees so close to the house when a pineapple express rolls in from the south. Besides the danger to life and limb, the sheer mess a big tree can make requires a lot of cleanup.

  3. Nice job Michael and Melissa. You two are definitely going to be ready to return to Mexico. Tacos and Margaritas for all!

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