Tough Decisions About Saving or Eliminating a Tree

Because your landscape is alive, it constantly changes and grows. You may make an aesthetic decision about saving or eliminating a tree a number of years after you’ve planted them. But sometimes practicality dictates your decision. For example, bit old trees towering over small houses often add charm and character to a landscape. The tree, however, may need branches pruned or cabled to keep them from falling on the house in strong winds or a storm. You may wish to consult a professional arborist to help make that decision.

Another common reason for re-evaluation is when a fast-growing shade tree that was tiny when planted now dwarfs shrubs and other trees in teh landscape, creating deep shade where none was before. This often happens to foundation plantings, where big shade trees were planted at a distance and now block all sun from reaching the house. A small sun loving tree or shrub that thrived for years may decline and even die in too much shade.

If you see shrubs and small trees with few leaves and long spindly stems, consider that too much shade may be the problem. When plants are in this condition, it’s usually not worth saving them. Remove them and plant new shade-tolerant varieties.

Photo by David McBee on

Soil Compression

Take down trees near the houes, where construction equipment will be rolling over the root zones. Even if you fence off the tree to protect the bark from damage, soil compression may still destroy the tree.


Remove trees that block desirable views. You may also want to cut down trees that lack character or beauty. Straight healthy trees are usually worth saving. Likewise, save gnarly old trees with striking form if they’re healthy and pose no hazard.


Tilting or damaged trees may ruin views from your home and be risky to keep. Take them out and replace them with straight and healthy new specimens. If you want to plant lawn in the area, have stumps on the round out about 1 foot deep.

These are all important things to note when you need to make tough decisions about whether or not to keep a tree. Of course, aesthetics always play an important role when making that decision.

This information was provided by an interesting book called “The Homeowners Complete Guide to Tree and Shrubs”.

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