Apr 16, 2013

Four Men and a Tree

Before our historic North End neighborhood was developed over one hundred years ago, our street was a creek bed flanked on both sides by Black Locust Trees. The creek was diverted to build our road, but many of the Locust Trees were left standing in the yards of the houses being built. 

This is ours. Over eighty feet tall.

The trunk was enormous and the roots filled our small back yard. 

 It sapped the water and nutrients out of the surrounding soil making it a challenge to grow anything beneath it.

 When we bought our home, our neighbors told us this huge old tree was dying, but because it gave us this wonderful shade during our hot summers, we spent a lot of money each year on professional fertilizing and pest control to help keep it healthy. We succeeded for twenty five years. Unfortunately, last year it lost about a third of its canopy and rained branches down on our yard and deck. It was time to let the old guy go. 

These are the men who worked all day to take it down for us. 
Until I had a front row seat to watch these men work, I had no idea how dangerous and difficult it is to cut down a large tree.  


This is the foreman, the man who harnessed himself into the bucket of a crane with a big chainsaw and had me oohing and aahing as I stood in my loft window watching and taking photos while he worked eighty feet above the ground.

First, he cut the smaller branches and carefully guided them to fall down and away from our deck and shed.

Then he tied a heavy rope around the largest branches and trunk. 

Using a pulley-type system, he sawed through the trunk as the men below held the other end of the rope tight and slowly lowered the enormous chunks of tree to the ground. It took great skill and experience to make the cuts so the pieces would fall properly without hitting him. This man is as strong as an ox, and he held up this heavy chainsaw for hours without taking a rest.

 This is the ground crew. These guys had to scurry in and out from beneath the tree dragging smaller branches out to the wood chipper. The word smaller is relative here. None of the branches were small, they were just less gigantic than others.

Gigantic and heavy as-in it took all three of them to lower each branch or piece of trunk slowly to the ground so it didn't crash down and break through the shed roof or the deck or kill one of them! 


 As-in this big! When some of these pieces hit the ground, they literally shook our house. 

It's pretty amazing what will fit into one of these chippers. They scare the heck out of me!

 When the pieces got too big for even the ground crew to carry, they brought out a big tractor and loaded them into a semi truck trailer. These pieces will be cut up later and sold as fire wood.

 The final bottom piece of the trunk was pulled over with a big chain and then sawed into smaller pieces for the tractor to pick up. I had to go pick up my daughter, so I didn't get any photos of the stump being ground down by yet another tractor. After that, there wasn't a trace of tree left except a bit of sawdust, and then they even took that away

Here's the entire sequence photographed by my neighbor from a different angle. 

 Pretty amazing, isn't it? 

 That morning my loft window had been looking right into our tree, and this was the same view seven hours later. Those are the foothills of the Rocky Mountains! It's so strange to look up and see the sky and mountains now, but we are really loving this new view from the back of our house.

 What a difference!  

For twenty-five years we had a very shady yard, and now we have a very sunny one. My husband took the fence down and removed all the bushes to make it easier for the tree to be removed.  After he replaces a few worn fence posts this weekend, we'll replant the big bushes.  I've already planned to give all my shade loving plants to my daughter for her yard and am researching new ones for the sun. Even my pots will have to be different now. I'll take lots of photos and share my switch from a shady yard to a sunny one here on my blog.

We kind of miss our big old tree, but we're also excited for this new urban gardening adventure. I hope you'll join me!  

  A special shout out to the crew from Qualitree. You guys rock! 

 Fab parties I'm joining this week:
Rooted in Thyme
My Repurposed Life


  1. Bon Voyage big tree. Loved your coverage of the event Laurel. What handsome lumberjacks you have in your neighbourhood! What a coincidence too... Our neighbour's were taking down their poor old weeping birch yesterday after school. Our neighbourhood is about 55 years old and the birch are all dead and/or dying. Poor Macy was in tears as her 'favourite' tree came down. She went over and got a small branch to save and felt better. We do love our trees. Looking forward to following along on your new gardening adventure!

  2. It will be like having a whole new yard now! You will have such fun at the nursery picking out new plants. Not too long ago, we took down 17 trees like that. It was quite a production. But don't worry, we still have plenty of trees left! Now we have a nice combination of sun and shade gardens.

  3. Wow - what a change, and such a lovely new view! We have a huge oak in our backyard that is both a blessing and a curse. The cool shade is nice, but it does sap up all the moisture in the yard and all I can grow is shade loving plants.

  4. Goodness! It does looks so different now with lots of sun in the deck. That was a huge tree!
    It is sad to part with such a grand old tree that has been there for so many years. However, nothing is forever. Happy urban gardening!

  5. We had to do the same thing when we lived in Washington state. It is amazing all the work involved in taking the trees down. I will never forget the size of the hole when the stump came out. I know your yard feels so much bigger!

  6. We've had to do the same thing to some of our oak trees they were so old and mostly rotted. It is amazing when you see these get taken down and it is dangerous too me but not them.


  7. Wow, What a huge tree and such a wonderful story. Sorry you had to lose the tree...Connie


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