The mild weather this week got me out of the house and back on my mid-day walk -- at least for a few days. I often see interesting or beautiful things on these walks and wish I had my camera, but hate to be encumbered while I ambulate. I did remember to bring my small camera with me one day this week though.

I'll start this "things around the neighborhood" post off with the bottom half of a small tree. I'm not certain of the type, as I couldn't tell from a quick look and didn't get a chance to do an up-close examination. Of course it would be nice to have leaves to help with the ID, so let's not worry about what type of tree this is.


Here's the top half of the same tree:

So far, nothing too unusual, right? Bottom looks fine, top looks fine. So you're probably guessing that there's something weird going on in this tree's midsection, right?

Well, not exactly.

You see, this tree doesn't have a midsection.

Why?! Why would anybody do this to a small tree? I've seen it done to larger trees in the neighborhood (hey tree services, it's the 21st century -- we don't top trees anymore!) but why would you do it to such a small tree? Unless there was some severe damage in the upper limbs, this makes no sense.

I'm sure it looks fine when in leaf, but for the 6 months in which it has no foliage we all have to look at this ugly sight.

Moving on...

To pines. Before I continue, a disclaimer: I'm not a conifer expert. I have three of them in my yard, and two of those are pines. There are conifers in two of my neighbor's yards, and they're all pines. So without more experience with different species I'm going to call all of the next trees "pines" and hope that they actually are.

There are some really nice 40 year-old pines in the area: big, full, healthy. Beautiful year-round:

Limbs all the way to the ground, which is perfect for this spot and looks great. Often times people need to remove the lower limbs:

(Probably not a pine)
I can understand that, as you get tired of getting hit in the head by branches, or just want to reclaim a little bit of shady yard space under the tree. It still looks great, as the photo above shows.

Some people though get carried away with the pruning:

Why?! Is there any reason for this? Were they tired of the huge vet bills from their pet giraffe always bumping its head on the branches? The only thing I can think is that the lower limbs were not healthy, so were removed. I don't know if this is exactly the right solution though. Did they expect the lower limbs to grow back?

This tree is actually just around the corner from my house, so I get to see it almost daily.

This is what I'm going to think of whenever I see it, just so my day doesn't get ruined.

Why do people do these things to trees?


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Rock rose  – (January 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM)  

Too funny. We have the same thing in Austin. We call it Crape murder because it is done to many crape myrtle trees annually. In England in front of my mother's apt. there was a large tree which they would pollard every few years. The people on the ground floor complained that it shaded their sun.

scottweberpdx  – (January 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM)  

Atrocious...some people should be banned form using power tools.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 11, 2013 at 9:41 AM)  

LOL. No matter where you live, trees are the biggest victims of yard care malfeasance. Pollarding should be punishable as a crime. Unfortunately, many "professional" tree services seem to have no more expertise in pruning trees than you and I.

Love the giraffe!

Lisa  – (January 11, 2013 at 10:04 AM)  

The giraffe is the absolute answer to the question "why?"!

TC  – (January 11, 2013 at 10:13 AM)  

Many pines drop their bottom branches as they get taller because they get shaded out too much by competing trees or buildings. Often it was not pruning that made white and red pines look that way but shade.

Alan  – (January 11, 2013 at 1:11 PM)  

TC: I've seen the lower branch die-off in some pines in the area, but this one was not natural. or they got carried away trimming the less-healthy branches. Is the tree really worth keeping at this point, especially in the front yard?

Laura @ Suburban Garden Life  – (January 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM)  

Thanks for the snarky giggle. I love the giraffe picture and it is the only reasonable explanation. Tree topping is heinous. But, I will confess that my husband did this once, and lost his chainsaw privileges, for life.

Jennifer  – (January 11, 2013 at 6:16 PM)  

Pet giraffe - HA!! That leaning pine should just get a basal cut. And removing the branches like that has only kept the weight at the top, encouraging it to lean farther and fall over sooner. Tree topping...I die a little bit inside every time I see a topped tree. How do we convince people that this practice is butchery? Besides, a tree is always going to want to be a certain size. If you think your kid is too tall, do you cut him off at the knees? There! All better!

Heather  – (January 11, 2013 at 7:06 PM)  

That crooked tree should have been taken down a long time ago. It looks like a liability!

Our neighborhood was planted with Bradford pears, which are very poorly suited for our Midwest winters. Some of our neighbors have lost portions of their trees and their solution has been the same, shear the top and let the suckers take over. It does look terrible in the winter, plus it's just a matter of time before another storm takes its toll.

Jason  – (January 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM)  

Hey, I need to know how you did that with the giraffe! Hilarious! Sure, that pine tree could just have a browse line. As to your first tree, it reminds me of how European serfs would coppice live trees in order to get firewood without trespassing in His Lordship's woods. Have many serfs around St. Louis these days?

Anonymous –   – (January 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM)  

Ray's tree service should invest in giraffe, rather than bucket lift. sustainability. HA! this was a great way to start off my morning yesterday. thanks Alan! yes topping trees and BUTCHERING of plant material is so painful to the designer eye. Beth

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