All Things Trees

May 31, 2017   //  Posted in: Backyard   //  By: Emily   //  3 responses

If our last 4 springs have been focused on clearing brush, this season has been the year of removing big, old trees. March windstorms did a real number on the City of Rochester and its surrounding areas; come to find we lack preparedness for those types of storms, but it feels silly to suggest how inconvenient it was to be forced out of our home for 3 nights due to downed lines knowing that the midwest and southern states are in a constant state of tornado hell this time of year. Our neighborhood survived with some expected damage, but we were fine.

Tree fallen in March 2017 windstorm.

The woods behind our house are a mess from the storms, but because that space is low priority it might remain that way for awhile. Most broken or tipped trees also knocked two or three more in their path like a domino line-up, many leaning and others snapped off halfway. Over the treehouse, a tall pine shifted and uprooted, but snagged itself in the branches of a neighboring tree. It was hard to tell exactly which way it would tumble–some part of it definitely would have hit the treehouse–so we avoided playing out there until we could have it removed.

Tipped pine tree in March 2017 windstorm.

Trees like that one can apparently be priced in the area of $2K for removal, and many tree companies have been upcharging too given the demand, but we lucked out by meeting a guy who knew a guy who climbed trees professionally and had free time on a Sunday and was able to come do the job for us at a fraction of the price. Our tree guy for life, is what I like to call him.

The big leaning tree was important, yeah, but the tree crew was actually more concerned with this tree in the middle of our backyard. It had cracked at the trunk, a fracture unrelated to the wind, and was worsening fast. This one, we could have taken down ourselves without much trouble, but had the crew take care of it while they were on site.

Tree splitting down the middle of the trunk.

I took some pictures of the yard before the trees were removed, knowing that the split tree in the middle of the yard would really change the entire landscape of our space. I’ve grown to realize that even though I take a lot of pictures, I’m still not doing a great job at showcasing how much our yard has changed.

Here’s the backyard in 2013 (arrow pointing at cracked tree, which was one of the few we preserved when we cleared that land):

Yard, on the day we closed on our house. Heavy brush.

And in 2017. I mean, we’ve been busy, right?!:

Trees that need to be cut down in 2017.

Both trees came down in a matter of hours with the help of Pete + the small crew.

Tree team's a GO. 📷: @dadandblog . . . #merrypadathome #cleanupcrew #pinetree #rochesterny #bringinthepros

A post shared by Emily Fazio at Merrypad (@merrypad) on

Part of the deal with our tree-guy-for-life was that we would get rid of all of the fallen wood so they didn’t have to haul it off. It’s the harder way out, but it’s an easy way to save some money, folks, what can I say. So, for weeks now we’ve been dedicating efforts to sustaining our free wood pile, which some sly neighbors have been silently devouring like stealthy little beavers.

Free wood sign at the side of the road.

The removal of those big trees actually came a few weeks after we removed a Sassafras tree from our front yard; in fact, those logs shown above are actually from that tree, and they’re leaning up against another Sassafras that isn’t looking too hot in my non-expert opinion. We have ongoing concerns about the health of the trees that line the front of our property–in truth, they might all have to go in the coming years–but they all made it through the windstorms, so hopefully they’re stronger than we expect.

The tree closest our driveway has always looked puny, and in the last year or so has developed some mighty big cracks (also sounded hollow AF) so we plotted and planned how we could drop it ourselves without simultaneously crashing our driveway. Worked like a charm.

When it fell, we witnessed hundreds–thousands–tens of thousands carpenter ants spilling out into our yard, creatures which undoubtedly were slowly leading to its demise and are probably also delighting in the bigger Sassafras trees lining the road in our neighborhood. They sucked so much life out of that tree that the cut logs weighed probably no more than 15-pounds each, evidenced by Pete carrying them easily over to the free wood pile.

Pete carrying huge Sassafras logs that were destroyed by carpenter ants.

Both the front yard and backyard are looking a bit different now, but on the plus side, our garden gets better afternoon sunlight than ever before. Will be back soon to share what we’ve been up to back there. (P.S. Sam’s weekly photo series mentioned here is still going strong. Closing in on one year!)

Taking weekly baby pictures nearby significant household changes, like this newly cut tree.


  • Karen
    1 year ago - Reply

    What did you do about the carpenter ants?

    • Emily
      1 year ago -

      … nothing. They scampered away.

  • sarah
    1 year ago - Reply

    If you have any longer sections of tree trunk, you may get some craigs listers to bite on taking it away themselves to be milled and used for woodworking. You could also pay to have someone come to your yard and mill it so you can dry and sell the pieces as live edge lumber.

    Also, on the existing trees: A good way to be stewards for the trees is to mulch underneath them. This helps retain moisture in the soil for the tree roots and keeps crawling vines away from the trunks. Mulch should be about 3 or 4 inches thick and should come up to (but not touch!) the trunk of the tree. You can mulch all the way out to the drip line (imagine drawing a straight line from the widest point of the tree canopy down to the ground to find the drip line) but you don’t have to go out that far.

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