RIP Tree - Don't Put off Tree Maintenance

Last week I took this picture of our house from across the street.  I wanted a photo of the yard with all its springy greenness.  Take a look at the tree planted in the parking strip directly in front of our house.  It looks good, right?  Had I known this would be our last picture of the house with the tree intact, I would have waited for Matt to finish cleaning the window so his butt wouldn’t be in the shot.

Monday morning:  We were both working from home.  Worky-work, tap-tap-tap on our keyboards.  It was a sunny day and a bit windy, but not too crazy.

1:00 pm:  CRACK!  Both of us, in different rooms, look out the front window and see half our 30-foot tall tree fall into the street.  Luckily no one was driving by at the moment.

1:00 - 1:30 pm:  Matt calls an arborist and the city.  The part of the tree that fell is blocking two lanes of our four-lane street.  Fortunately traffic is light this time of day.  Some guy pulls over in his pickup truck and tries to drag the fallen half of the tree out of the street and direct traffic.  Matt goes outside and tells him to knock it off as 1) he’s on our property and the rest of the tree could fall on this guy; 2) professionals are on their way to deal with it; 3) people can figure out how to drive around an obstruction in the road.

1:30 pm:  The arborists arrive.  Within 15 minutes they cut up the fallen part of the tree into pieces small enough to move onto the parking strip.

1:45 pm:  Someone arrives from the city (SDOT) and takes some pictures of the tree.  We find out it is lucky the arborist came to move the fallen tree, since for some reason the city doesn’t seem to have anyone available to do anything about there being a large obstruction on a major city street.  She tells Matt that the tree is on the city tree inventory, that pear trees (we didn’t even know it was a pear tree - it doesn’t fruit but it flowers every year) its size tend to randomly fall apart like this, and that the city will pay the arborist to cut down the rest of the tree.  

2:00 pm:  Matt gets a quote from the arborist to chip the branches and stump and to prune the other two big trees in our yard after they’ve removed the damaged tree. 

3:00 pm:  The arborist shows up to cut down the remaining half a tree and put the whole thing through the wood chipper.  It takes less than 30 minutes.

3:30 pm:  The tree has been reduced to a pile of wood chips in the driveway.  The arborist leaves.  They will come back another day to grind the stump and prune our other trees.  Matt starts moving wheelbarrows full of wood chips and quickly spreads it onto various planting beds in the front and back yard.  Silver lining: he’d been talking for months about how he needed some wood chips.

4:30 pm:  There is virtually no sign that there was ever a beautiful 30-foot tree in the parking strip in front of our house.  It has disappeared completely.  Our view is so different now.  The view of our house from the street will never be the same.  Our across-the-street neighbor commented about how it was such a nice tree.  We are sad.  Now we need to get a new tree.

Lesson:  Don’t put off tree maintenance.  We’ve been talking about having the trees looked at and pruned (by an arborist, as opposed to by Matt who only vaguely knows what he’s doing) for the last two years.  It seems unlikely this tree would have been saved, but it could have been removed more safely and at a better time for planting a new one.  We are lucky that no one got hurt and there was no property damage.

-Kelly

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