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Woodsman, spare that tree

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Five neighbors have cut down trees in their front yards recently, and in all but one case I’m at a loss to understand why.

I’m not a tree-hugger in the traditional sense of the word – I love using wood, and will happily cut down a tree to get it – but I get very upset when I see trees cut down for no clear reason. I’m upset now.

The one instance I understand was my next-door neighbor (the good one, not the sociopath with the lawnmower), and it involved his corkscrew willow. That was a particularly “dirty” tree; if you’re familiar with them, you know they drop hundreds of tiny branches every fall that play havoc with yard care and landscaping. Besides that, it was close to the sidewalk, which it was beginning to lift from root growth. It was a beautiful tree; I miss it, but fully understand the reasons for removing it.

When trees or their roots interfere with underground pipes or overhead utilities, or otherwise threaten to cause property or other damage, it’s perfectly logical and desirable to cut them down. But that’s not the case with the other four homes in my neighborhood. Among them, a very old oak, two old maples, two medium-age maples, and a tight grouping of three birches were all cut down within the past few weeks, and I couldn’t determine a potential damage threat from any of them. I suppose there could have been something underground I wasn’t aware of, but none of these trees was in a spot where I’d expect pipes or other buried utilities to be.

The only thing I can think of is that the owners just didn’t want them anymore, or wanted to open up their front yards a bit. In each case, however, the homes now look stark, bare and, for lack of a better word, uglier. Worse, the trees were cut with no regard for using the lumber, a particular disappointment for those old oaks and maples. All were cut into those 1-foot or so chunks destined for the local landfill or mulcher.

It’s none of my business what decisions a homeowner makes regarding his property, and that includes trees on it. But I think my neighborhood is now poorer for the decisions of these four homeowners.



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