Boom! Down Goes the Tree

Amy Freidig

Master Gardener Program Assistant

Last spring was full of heartache as we had to take down some really important big trees in our backyard.  We lost a 25+ year old honeylocust that was scarily hanging over a powerline as well as a large ash. (Part of the honeylocust is shown in the picture… see that included bark, crack, and slimey sludge going down the trunk?)  I was so distraught that our conscientious tree removal pro ended up leaving me a handwritten note detailing why I had made the right call to have them taken down.  

I did survive the shock of suddenly having a very sunny backyard.  We ended up planting a swamp white oak right away because I didn’t want to lose a whole season stewing over what to plant.  We also went with an Autumn Blaze maple and some flowering crabs.  (These were mostly impulse plantings… “right plant for the right place” was a thought that I admittedly didn’t agonize over last summer.)

This season, I will be putting in some Whitespire birch, two cherry trees (a nod to my favorite place on earth, Door County), and a sycamore.  All will be bareroot trees.  Our yard is pretty large so we can accommodate this influx of trees.  I’m pretty excited to get them growing.

This tree experience made me look critically around my neighborhood, full of mature trees.  It made me remember what I heard in a talk by the head gardener of Chanticleer, who said that if you want to have old trees, you have to plant young trees.

Are we paying attention to this idea of age diversity in our urban tree population?  I’m not sure.  As you hear the saws in various municipalities removing all the ash trees, it brings into focus how important species diversity can be.  But are we neglecting to pay attention to strategically planting new generations of trees in our green spaces and around our homes?  

I think this is an important thought to ponder.  Look around.  If you lost a pivotal tree in your landscape, do you have a younger tree growing up in the vicinity that will help to soften the blow?  If you don’t, is it a possibility to plant one?  

I’m hoping to learn more about this topic because I think it’s important.  I feel a sense of responsibility to my community’s urban forest.  And it’s pretty sweet to think that the trees that I plant could be around for future generations to enjoy.