The Great Dilemma

While working for an H.O.A. about 15 years ago, I noted two spectacular weeping willows in a common area, surrounded by turfgrass. A perfect environment for these trees, BUT, and there is always a but, these trees in particular have strikes against them from the day they were planted.

I informed the H.O.A. landscape head that they should plan on a contingency plan for these trees in the future. And that day has come…

You see, Salix species (willows) are a relatively short-lived type of tree. About 30-40 years before gravity coupled with weight, mixed with weak structural tendencies and a smattering of decay and VOILA! You now have what I call a “limb barfer.”

Willows are high maintenance trees; needing pruning every year or two to keep the extremely fast growing flush of growth in check.

The downside to frequent pruning is the response of new growth it spurs. It really gets to be a financial black hole for the entity footing the bill, in this case, the H.O.A.

At a couple thousand a whack, at what point do you decide to “pull your ropes” and call it a wrap?

The conundrum is the emotional attachment that we have to trees that have become a major part of our landscape.

There are no 100 year-old willows around that aren’t in horrible condition, to the point of being downright dangerous to be under, or around. The darn things just don’t have that kind of lifespan…

It really sucks to cut something down that has become iconic, I know this feeling, I have been there, and done that.

I take no pleasure in removing trees that just get old for their age, but I would rather do it than find out that it puked a limb, and put someone in a pine box.

Of course, if the area within the “strike zone” of the tree can be kept clear of said people, than no harm, no foul.

It all comes down to liability! Is there a target? Is there a likelihood of failure? Is there an opportunity for the failure to strike the target?

Enter my responsibility as a professional arborist who might have to sit in a courtroom and articulate the reason why I was NOT negligent by not condemning the tree I should have known was going to blow up sooner rather later!

You pay your monies, and you take your chances as they say. Plan for the future, and more importantly, PLANT for the future…