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.


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.


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.


About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

6 thoughts on “Mulberry tree not to be

  1. I am so very excited for you! I can’t wait to see this unfold. You’re going to do a great job. I know your hard work will pay off, and you’ll learn so much. Thanks!!

  2. How about a littleleaf linden? It would be a beautiful tree for the spot, and you’d have the lovely scent of the flowers each spring.

  3. Tilia cordata (littleleaf linden) is a very fine species indeed. That said, I am hoping to pick something native… Another species that came to mind is the Kentucky coffee tree…

  4. Thank you for your comment Mary. I double checked with Dirr’s and Krüssmann’s publications. Both list Tilia cordata as a species native to Europe. The replacement tree does not need to stay under the power line. I would plan on pruning it in a way that it would stay away from those line (such as most of the other mature trees on the street).

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