A giant spruce stands to the right of our barn. Of all the trees on our property, this was by far our favorite. Ironically, this one needed to come down the most.
When you move into a new home, you must take on, and in many ways embrace, the role of being 'the new neighbor'. In fact, you might as well have it emblazoned on your forehead. Unfortunately, how long you remain in this role will depend largely on the will of the neighborhood to embrace change. For instance, in the eyes of a previous neighbor who always kept his grass perfectly manicured and liked to spray Roundup perilously close to my garden, me and my organic vegetables would always be considered outsiders. (But then again, his worldly view seemed just as foreign to me.) Luckily for us, in our present situation, it was only a matter of days until we were fully integrated into the neighborhood fold. In fact, we've established close relationships with several of our neighbors and feel in many ways as though we've known them for years, which is a good sign when you've just bought your 'forever' home.
Still, like many new homeowners, I did experience my fair share of self-induced paranoia about what our new neighbors might think of us during this 'get to know you' phase. Will they judge me if they hear my son throw a tantrum the size of Mount Vesuvious from the safety of their breakfast tables? Will they be annoyed if they see our dog Lucy leave a little present on their lawn as they enjoy this wonderful breakfast? (Without us knowing, of course.) And most importantly, will their eyes glaze over when I tell them about all of the trees I want to cut down on our property? (You know the look, the one that screams - "Dude, you just moved into the neighborhood and already you want to change it?")
After the fall - spruce trees have notoriously shallow roots that form a pancake shape around the base of the trunk. This particular tree was leaning towards our barn. The neighbors informed us that three similarly massive spruce trees directly across the street from us blew over during Hurricane Sandy. In the end, we decided we loved our barn more.
If you think I'm overemphasizing this last point, think again. Old neighborhood trees, even ones barely clinging to life, are like the teachers unions of the plant kingdom - they wield a power so great that even the slightest notion of change can spark a neighborhood feud on the scale of Shakespearean proportions. I was reminded of this fact recently when a friend, who currently is building a home in a neighboring town, decided to trim up several tall trees that ran along his future driveway. While chainsaws were in high gear, his future next-door neighbor drove by shouting the words all new residents want to hear - "Wayyyydddddaaa bring down the neighborhoooooood!!!!" Which is why I thought it best to disclose my tree killing intentions to our new neighbors with beers in hand.
A row of overgrown cedars used to line our driveway along the north side of our property. After taking them down, we now have a beautiful view of our neighbor's front yard. They in turn have a nice view of our...well...gas meter. This upcoming spring, I will plant a fruiting wall of dwarf apple trees spaced 3 ft apart where the cedars used to be.
In the end, I don't think any of our neighbors really cared that I wanted to cut down some of our trees. And by 'some' I mean many. In fact, it turns out that the person who needed the most convincing of all was my husband. (We're still negotiating several trees.) I explained that some people prefer to live underneath the mighty shade of giant trees. As a vegetable gardener, I am not one of them. Which is not to say that I enjoy cutting down trees that have been around for longer than I have been alive just for the sake of some added Vitamin D. In fact, I don't enjoy it at all. However, I do find it perfectly respectable and prudent to cut down old neglected trees in order to free up some space to grow a garden or plant new trees that will either feed us with their fruit or seduce us with their form, foliage and grace. In fact, the 11 fruit trees I've already ordered for delivery next spring will have to count on me being ruthless.
Trees. Be. Warned.