Tree Removal Considerations

By Natalie Boyack, Conservation Garden Park

Removing a tree from your landscape can be a hard decision, especially if it is a big, mature tree. It can be hard to lose the shade and intimidating to make such a big change to your landscape. But when a tree is dead, diseased or dying it can be a hazard to people and property, with the potential to cause damage from breaking branches, or from the entire tree falling over.

When there are visible signs that a tree is dying, there isn’t much you can do. There are ways to prolong its life, but it will never be a strong, healthy tree again. You can spend the next ten years watching your tree get worse and die, or you can take it out now and spend the next ten years watching a new tree grow.

Removing a tree can be exciting because it provides a great opportunity to make changes in your landscape. It’s also a great time to try a new tree variety, because there was a reason the other tree died. You are more likely to have success if you do some research and find a different type of tree for that spot.

Tips for success:

Stay out of lawn

Notice how close the grass is to the trunk of the tree you’re removing. There are many reasons for not putting trees in the middle of the lawn: mowing around trees creates more maintenance needs; lawn requires a lot more water than trees, so when the trees are planted in the lawn the trees are getting over-watered; and lawn mowers rubbing the base of trunks and string trimmers hitting the trunk can cause enough damage, even on a big tree, to kill it.

Remove original packing material

Was your original tree planted in its packaging material? When a tree comes in burlap or a metal cage sometimes people don’t remove those materials before the tree is planted. The tree will do okay for a few years, but as the roots grow the cage can become too tight and kill the plant. The burlap is tied on with a string which can cut off the flow of nutrients to the tree as the trunk gets bigger and that can also be a cause of death.

Look for those things on trees you are removing to help you understand why it died, and then make sure to remove those materials from the new tree if you replant. It is also important to note if the tree is suited for the location in which it was planted. A shade-loving tree might die in a sunny location because its growing needs are not being met. Having a tree in an area where it gets too much or too little water for its needs will also be a problem.

Local nurseries are a great place to get information on trees that will work well here. Conservation Garden Park has a plant database with lots of trees that do well here and offers tours of trees and shrubs that thrive in the Garden. Visit conservationgardenpark.org for information.

For more information on how to make your landscape Utah friendly, visit conservationgardenpark.org or Localscapes.com. Want some money for making changes? Visit utahwatersavers.com.

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