Wednesday, March 3, 2010

62nd Street Trees

As any homeowner in Berkeley will probably tell you, trees are a big issue in this town.

When we bought the Fulton Street house, there was a huge Monterey Pine in the front yard, right on the corner.  It had three trunks and stood a good 80 feet high, towering over the house and neighborhood.  It covered the sidewalks and yard with pine needles; nothing grew under it; and we spent about $1000 replacing the sidewalk which had been heaved by its roots.

The McGahey house had a huge pine tree as well, and one day, we noticed it had suddenly died.  It had been ailing for a while, but within a couple days it suddenly went from being green to being brown.  Monterey pines had been in the news - one had fallen unexpectedly in Berkeley and killed someone in an SUV - so we decided to cut them both down.

We were somewhat unprepared for the reaction of people on the street.  Although our neighbors were pretty supportive of our decision, total strangers were not.  On the day of the tree cutting, one woman wanted to do a ritual in our front yard (we almost had to call the cops to get rid of her), and another man complained loudly that "people should never cut trees"  When I told him it was a safety concern, he responded, "If you're worried about your safety, you should move!"  

Needless to say, the trees were cut down.

On 62nd Street, we're anticipating similar issues. The lot has several trees.  There is a mature Meyer Lemon tree, which is a tree we plan to keep.  Fortunately, it is growing exactly where we want it - when this project is finished, people in the Cheney Cottage will see it out their back windows.  

There is also an acacia tree, growing right in the center of the property.  Acacias are like big weeds - they grow fast and they have little to offer except a mess.  So the acacia is on the hit list.

There are also several plum trees.  They are all pretty much exactly where the Delaney House will end up, so they're on the hit list as well.

But the biggest problem (literally) are the redwoods.  There are 5 of them: In the front, right in front of where the Cheney Cottage will be, there are two huge ones.  At the back of the lot, there is a cluster of three more, one of which is at least 100 feet tall.  

Our neighbors are pretty unanimous in their opinions of what to do: cut them down.  The ones in the front are pretty awful looking: they have been hacked back to miss the power lines, so they look like giant "C"s from the street.  The smaller ones in the back are not doing great, but the large one is very healthy.  But it rains down brown fronds into the yard, the neighbors' yards, and the neighbors' gutters.  Since it's on the south side of the lot, it also creates a lot of shade.

When we first got the property, Elliott spent some time raking up all the droppings from the back trees - the mound that had collected under the trees was probably about 4 feet high.  Already, the mound is forming again, as the tree continues to drop dead branches and leaves.  

Then, there is the cost issue: cutting down large trees is not cheap.  But it would probably be easier/safer to cut the trees now than to wait until the Delaney House is closer to the back trees and the Cheney Cottage is next to the front ones.  

No decisions have been made yet - but I invite any local readers to go by and let me know what you think.  It's something we're going to be facing sooner than later.

1 comment:

  1. Read your blog and was intrigued with your 62nd Street story. Please consider NOT cutting down the trees, but instead think about a new American Made rain gutter cleaning tool that will help in the maintenance of this lovely home and save you tons of money over the years. Its called the Gutter Clutter Buster and you can find it on-line at their webpage. Check this out please, before you make the decision to cut-down the trees!