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So Long Birch Tree - I Hardly Knew Ye

Six or seven years ago a little ranch style house in the neighborhood had a clump of birch trees in their front yard.  I loved the look, so off to Hewitt's I went, about an hour later 173 had a birch tree with three main limbs.

See that little stub of a stump to the right of the two main limbs (or would they be considered trunks?)?  That was the remnant of the third limb.  It had grown way too close to horizontal, so we put in a fence post and tied the limb to it in an effort to get it to grow more vertical.  After a year or more of being supported, the limb was released and it immediately went to its old position - horizontal.  We're pretty aggressive with the plant life around here, so out to the shed, tree saw, and maybe five minutes later we were down to two limbs.  Of course being repurposers, a new use was found for a good length of that limb:


There it is...supporting the bird house behind the bench!  Anyway, I digress.  The point is this...when I put the birch trees in, I had done no research on them.  Sometime last year I heard someone talking about their foundation and that tree roots had destroyed it.  I casually asked, gee - what kind of tree did that?  I thought for sure the answer would be a willow.  After all, who hasn't heard the horrible stories of damaged pipes and foundations caused by the water-seeking willow?  Imagine my chagrin when the answer came back - birch tree!

Notice I said this conversation took place sometime last year. So no, panic didn't set in.  BUT, the research began immediately, and in earnest!  Let me save you the chore of looking at a thousand different websites, they all pretty much say the same thing:

To double in area every year and build the underground web to support rapid top growth, roots have to grow fast. Substantial white birch roots fill the area around the tree and probe cracks in barriers, including concrete. The tree’s aggressive roots seek water, prying open cracks or joints in sewer or irrigation systems. Birch roots, along with willow and poplar, are among the most aggressive -- and destructive -- tree roots.  - SF GATE  

So, nearly a year later, and with great sorrow, the birch trees came down.  And unceremoniously.  Ten minutes and they were gone.  After an hour, all the branches and leaves fit into three yard bags and they were at the curb.  Just like that.

The birches will be missed.  This picture shows that they were just getting to the point where they were providing some nice evening shade:

But it had to be done.  On the upside, the Bradford pear tree on the right in the picture below is beginning to mature and in the next couple years will certainly provide some shade.

The other benefit is that it certainly opens up the yard:

And as the exterior of 173 continues to improve, I guess that'll be okay too!


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