Goodbye Oak

Two Pin Oaks shade the deck

We planted two Pin Oaks (Quercus palustris) on the side of the deck when we built it about 30 years ago.  The intent was shade and shielding from the driveway and garage.  We chose Pin Oaks for their deep tap root and compatibility with house and driveway.  Mostly that has worked out to be a good choice.  Although they are much taller than we ever imagined in our youthful enthusiasm.  But last year we noticed that the smaller of the two trees had a lot of dead branches.  When we looked into it the verdict was that it was most likely oak decline without much prospect that it would get any better over time.   So we decided to bite the bullet and take the tree out.

We were somewhat nervous about this because, in addition to possible damage to the house, there were lots of plantings nearby, including our favorite daphne and an unusually fragrant azalea, Rhododendron ‘Visco Sepala’.

Next to the pin oak are many little specimen plants

However, our tree guy, the brother of a close family friend, said that he could remove it without any ancillary damage so we went ahead this week.  If you undertake to remove a tree this large next to the house you better have someone who knows what they are doing.  And Mike certainly was up to the job.

Mike strips the tree at the top

Even in my best days as a young man I could not have managed the one-handed chainsaw operation that I saw Mike engaged in.  My arm muscles ached just watching.

One hand for the chainsaw

Meanwhile, down below his partner Sam gathered falling pieces and began cutting them up further.

Down below Sam gathered the pieces

It looks like it would be very easy to lose track of which branch the safety harness is attached to.

Mike spread-eagled from branch to branch

I think that it took them about 2 1/2 hours to transform the deck to a one oak platform.

Now just one oak covers the deck

And other than a gentle sawdust mulch there was no damage to anything surrounding the oak, including the volunteer dogwood that had grown up behind it.

Nothing else at all harmed in cutting down the oak

And all that is left to testify to the pin oak’s existence is a stump which will become a potted plant platform and some of the biggest fireplace logs that I’ve yet encountered on our property.

The remains of the oak

Meanwhile, I was busy with another removal project next to the woods.  The previous owner had built a little cow/chicken shed but had only placed it on a limited brick foundation and it rotted off years ago.  I bashed it in with the tractor and hauled a lot off two years ago, but quite a bit of junk remained and the brush and vines had grown up around it.  So took tractor, chain saw and mower to hand and cleaned most of the remaining junk out.

Getting rid of the last of the shed

The goal is not only to get rid of the unsightly junk pile but to make a little grove of Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) and Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) that we can mow around until we decide what to do next in that area.

Making a Cherry/Ash grove

One challenge was the Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) that was well entangled in the one corner of the grove.

Pruning back the Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

It really can’t decide whether to grow as a tree or a shrub but I think with some careful pruning we should be able to keep it more willow-like in appearance.  I do like the fragrance in the early spring.

The remainder of the shed was carted off to the dump.  But because much of the shed material was throughly rotted I think we will be encountering roofing materials and plywood pieces for years.  And there is still a slab of concrete that formed part of the structure.  The concrete won’t be going anywhere soon.

Goodbye shed

And on a more constructive note we were not just tearing things down this week.  I also planted a replacement for the Coral Bark Maple that the Deer destroyed last year.

The new Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'

I opted for a bigger one, hoping they would not choose to repeat the process.  I had never before seen them disturb a Japanese Maple.

We put it in the logical place to sit down and admire it at the end of the day (were we sit down and admire kind of people …).

Relaxation at the end of the day