Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Man vs. Tree

I've written here several times in the last few months about my distress over all of the millions of dead trees that resulted from the exceptional drought we have suffered. Last month, I reported that some of the dead trees in my neighborhood were being removed. As much as one hates to see trees taken down, this was a very good thing, because if these mammoth trees fell in a storm, they could do a lot of damage.

The tree that was of particular concern to me was not removed in December, however. It was the pine tree that was perhaps 120 feet tall and stood on the other side of our back fence in our neighbors' backyard. It was very close to the neighbors' house so removing it would be a delicate operation. Today that operation took place.

At this point, the man with the chainsaw is over 100 feet in the air, held in place by his safety belt and spiked boots. He had removed all the lower branches of the tree as he climbed and now he is ready to take down the top section.

The top of the tree is beginning to sway.

He gives the tree a push and...

Down it goes!

Even though the top was down, there was still a lot of tree to be removed. It took the chainsaw man and his crew on the ground the entire afternoon to take the big tree down. As I worked in my backyard and watched him at his work, my heart was in my throat much of the time, but he obviously was very competent and knew what he was doing. That tree didn't have a chance.

The tree had been a part of my life and a part of my view for all the years that I have lived here. I will miss it. My backyard will be sunnier on summer afternoons now, which is not really a good thing. But I expect my neighbors will rest easier knowing that the threat of that tree falling no longer looms over their house and I'm glad to know that it will no longer threaten my garden shed and vegetable garden. The man with the chainsaw has relieved our minds of that particular worry.


  1. It's sad that so many trees died in the drought. I know you will miss this one. But perhaps your neighbor will plant a replacement tree.

  2. Maybe, but it would take a long, long time for it to achieve the presence that this tree had, Jayne. Planting trees to replace the dead ones is a very good thing though. I'm still looking for places where I can plug (small) fruit trees into my landscape.

  3. HiYa,

    With each tree that is lost around your home.. your landscape will change by July. You will notice burn marks on many shrubs and plants.

    So take note now of what the area looked like 2 seasons ago and what
    changes will be taking place once Memorial Day arrives! I had lost many things in my part shade garden last year when a neighbor cut a tree across the street from me. The sun really cooked my hydrangeas and columbines.

    In my area the sights and sounds are the same. Each week someone nearby has a tree removed. All I hear as I walk out the door is the buzz of a chain saw. I stop to admire how well this task is performed on such a giant tree that died during this drought.

    Each week as I drive around I see trees that were cut down and the limbs are placed on a empty lot... waiting for a truck to haul them off.

    I wonder what they will do with them?

    Can they be used for something other than mulch?

    Will they land up in a landfill or a recycle firm?

    The thing that upsets me is to think of Nature in the future. All the birds and the mammals who need a tree to get food from, to breed and sleep!

    The trees that are used for a nursery will be gone. Once a year a Bird of Prey will come back to the same location to breed. A few times a year a squirrel uses the same area as do the flying squirrels. I am sure the flying squirrel is now doomed to survive here in Texas!

    As I walk around my area I stop to watch the resident woodpecker, I then stop to think about his/her future.. what are they going to do in the next few months ? Right now the sapsuckers have come around to use the trees but what will happen next winter?

    I sure hope we see some rainfall on Monday, we really need it!


  4. You make some excellent points, Urs. The ecology of the entire area has been changed drastically by the drought and the death of so many trees. It will create problems for some species who will be forced to adapt, move on, or die, and it will create opportunities for other species to move into the niches that are vacated. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

    And yes, I'm going to have to rethink some of the plantings in my backyard because there will be more sun there now in summer.

  5. We were in Houston at Thanksgiving and I was shocked at how many trees had already succumbed to the drought. It seems the ones most affected were pine trees. Good thing that one came down the right way.

  6. And so the circle of life continues. I used the drought as an opportunity to plant a juvenile Longleaf Pine (which took some serious hunting to find, BTW). In another few years, it will start to creep upwards, filling the void left by the past few years of drought, neglect, and construction.

  7. The death of so many trees is a shocking and tragic thing, Jean, and you're right - it seems that pines were the one most affected by the drought. It is to be hoped that landowners are now giving thought to planting more trees to at least partially replace what has been lost.

  8. Every challenge brings opportunity as the other face of the coin, hollasboy. It sounds like you are making the most of your opportunity. I, myself, lost an old apple tree, more to disease than drought although I'm sure the lack of water didn't help. I've planted a pomegranate, but I still have room for another small fruit tree in the space and I'm still debating what that will be.

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