Trees were much on my mind last week, so much in fact, that I haven’t had time to write about them. Since the tree pruners are going about it like crazy in my ‘hood, aka “Zone 4,” I’ve been unable to escape their white truck and orange cones no matter what route I take, and the noise of their branch-crunching machinery has become a major cause for anxiety, if it’s okay to share that publicly.
What is there so much to worry about? The fact that the other day A-Plus Trimmers were on Broadway, hacking away at the ashes there. Since I wrote about the trees on Broadway a while ago (specifically the way they’ve butchered/lion-tailed in the past), I’ve been watching them carefully since and I was literally praying they would be spared this time. So when I saw those people in hard hats roping’em up, and the pile of branches on the ground, my heart just sank. Needless to say, I called PW to have them supervise the work, as I believe there’s no more room for mistakes there. I had a long conversation with someone named Flavio who assured me somebody did go on location quickly, and that the job the pruners were doing is okay. But I’m not at all sure. Even though the bad shape of the Broadway trees is not this contractor’s fault, they seem to go on maintaining the bad cut, instead of allowing the tree to recover and try to restore its crown. This is not acceptable. I know that I and a few other people called to express concerns. But more pressure on the city is needed to stop this destructive practice that slowly kills so many of our street trees.
Lion-tailing is so bad, it is truly a mystery to me why it continues to be tolerated. Some of it is probably ignorance, but I’m sure that’s not all. Here’s an excellent article (informative AND funny) that offers some guesses as to why we do what we do to trees. Something’s weird with the PDF and I can’t copy the best parts from it, but just go ahead and read it—you’d be a better person for it and will be able to speak with some authority should you happen to converse with a tree worker who tells you your tree’s “load” needs to be “lightened.”
Here’s a few examples of lion-tailed trees (fine, one is a joke—it’s okay to look that way in a children’s book):
Do you recognize the shape? Do you think THIS is the way a NORMAL tree looks? Hope not. These are not Broadway trees. I have pictures of them here. Make a note of how many trees you see around town have no leaves whatsoever for full 2/3 of their height, and a few tufts whipping around on the top of a shaved branch. This is WRONG. If you see someone doing it—please stop them. It you can’t—report it. The city should—and they do—know better—if they were to follow their own guidelines. But we need eyes on the street, watching for this. The damage is permanent, and it IS your business, I have no problem saying, because you are the one who will have to look at that cripppled creature daily or watch the tree die of malnutrition because of the leaf mass lost. I’ve been advocating a lot of personal action on this blog—even though it would be easier to say it is the city’s job to do things right. For a variety of reasons, they either don’t, or can’t always.
The best way to deal with a lion-tailed tree is to leave it alone— allow it to fill itself first, and maybe later selectively choose some of the new growth and let it develop into branches (not the perfect branch the tree would have had if it never got lion-tailed, but better than nothing). The worst way to act is to continue to “do something” for no good reason whatsoever, typically repeating the previous mistakes all over again, by cleaning out the “suckers” until the tree dies of malnutrition.
Will you help stop the tails now?