Category Archives: trees and shrubs

Rooting for removal

Back in April of ’09 I wrote about our decision to remove the existing mulberry tree in our front yard. It wasn’t a difficult decision, but a difficult task to complete.

We now have further reassurance that it was a good choice. While we were gutting the basement we came across and increasing number of roots finding their way up through the floor. They had a particularly strong presence in “the secret room” under the front stoop and stairs, which was very close to the mulberry tree.

While removing and excavating the existing basement floor we discovered a whole new network of tree roots, large and small, growing in from underneath the footing wall and popping out of the clay.

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Mulberry tree roots don’t have the best reputation; they can be pretty aggressive. I am really glad that we took the tree down last April.

That said, not all roots may originate from the Mulberry tree! There is also a big Tree-of-Heaven (another junk tree species) very close to the northwest corner of our house.

This tree is also a little too close to the building and foundations for my comfort. The problem is that this tree is not on our property. I should plan to talk to our neighbor to find out how they feel about the tree, and if they would be open to replace it with another species a little further away from the building.

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Mulberry tree not to be

I have to start with a disclaimer: I never have been a big fan of mulberry trees and profoundly agree with those who put this species into the “junk tree” category.

We have a 30 year old mulberry tree in our little front yard, a little too close to the foundation walls and reaching as tall as the house, as wide as the property, and all the way into the street.

It rests on two electrical lines, one in the parkway and the other over the street curb – not good! I also discovered a split in a fork of two major branches, one of them leaning over the sidewalk, into the electrical lines and the street – not good at all.

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Do you see where this is going? The decision to remove the mulberry was not a very difficult one. The process of removal on the other hand was a real challenge. Cathy and I had to very carefully cut the branches out of the electrical lines to avoid any damage. Furthermore, a lot of branches and trunks were right in fall line of our nice, decorative fence, or our neighbor’s fence.

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In short, we had to carefully take the tree down, bit by bit, branch by branch, roping a lot of the material carefully to the ground. But we did well. We got the job done with no damage to us, our neighbor’s property or our fence. And, while on the job, we had the attention of our neighbors and got to know them better, and even received some enthusiastic help during the clean up from the kids next door (a very welcome but unexpected side benefit)!

And now … now we need to think about a replacement. We don’t just want to leave a big open gap behind, but would like to replace it with a nice, quality, native tree. We probably will plant it in the parkway to fill the space better. The longevity of a parkway tree is always a big question because of potential upcoming utility work. With that in mind we would prefer a moderately fast-growing tree. I had Quercus bicolor (Swamp White Oak) on my mind, but think I will solicit a few more suggestions before I make up my mind.

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