Friday, August 1, 2008

Heavy-handed tree pruning in Elmhurst

Early Saturday morning, on June 7, 2008, around 8:00 a.m. I heard the unmistakable sounds of saws. As I peered out of my second floor apartment, I saw that all along, up and down my street, there were crews of men, from the ASPLUNDH Tree Expert company, sawing down many large branches and limbs from the ancient trees that have graced my block all these years.

I have lived in this neighborhood of Elmhurst, Queens, NY nearly all my life, having moved here 47 years ago, when I was only five years old. So, you can imagine how devastated I was, when I witnessed the "hatchet" job this company did to our fine, majestic and beautiful trees that must be at least 75 years old or older, or at least since the neighborhood was first planned.

I realize that, yes, urban trees need to be pruned from time to time. They need to be pruned of obvious dead sections of the tree, plus perhaps at least trim branches that may be in the way of power lines. I have been doing some reading up however, on the basics of tree pruning, and the often guidelines used for such an operation. This company, ASPLUNDH Tree Expert didn't follow any of them. First, I had read, that lower branches do need to be sawed off to allow for space of trucks that may pass through a street, but the recommended height is to saw off lower branches that are lower than eight feet from the ground. The ASPLUNDH Tree Expert company saw not only the lower branches, but now there are now tree limbs or branches on any of the trees lower than a good fifteen feet.

Also, trees must be pruned symmetrically to give balance. All the trees on my block are now lopsided...that is more limbs and branches were sawed off on just one side of the trees and were NOT in anyway near power lines. By creating such an imbalance of the trees, this actually weakens them, and given any strong storm system could actually in fact cause the tree to fall down completely. I was also under the impression that a sealant had to be placed on newly pruned limbs or branches of trees to prevent any airborne diseases that affect trees. As you may realize, during the past many years, many trees in the NYC area have been severely affected by such airborne tree diseases.

I was also under the impression that the actual best time to prune trees was in their more dormant period, that is late fall, winter, and very early spring, before new growth emerges...the worse is right after everything has leafed out...To quote here from one website I found.

"Generally, the best time to prune anything deciduous is in late winter or early spring just before new growth emerges. The worst possible time to prune is right after everything leafs out, since the plants have just used up most of their stored energy and haven't had time to replace it. Fall used to be thought of as a good time to prune deciduous material, but spring is much better if possible. Plants store lots of energy in twiggy growth to help them overwinter, and cuts will heal more quickly when the plant is getting ready to grow as opposed to shutting down."

Since maple trees fall under this category of Deciduous trees, which are the trees on my block, then the mere fact that these trees were pruned at this time indicates that this was the worse time to prune such trees.

Now I know that pruning of trees also can encourage new growth. This is not necessarily so. Some many years ago, major pruning of the trees on my block was conducted. Did that pruning create new growth on any of the trees? A big no. No new growth came as a result of the former pruning, and where the limbs and branches were sawed off there only remains the saw off stumps.

I was not only infuriated, but also deeply saddened and depressed to see the horrible, careless hatchet job this company, ASPLUNDH Tree Expert did of these once beautiful trees on my block. Just yesterday I was thinking how beautiful this one large limb of the tree right out in front of my second floor apartment was. It kept my apartment cool during the hot summer months, with its wonderful shading, and also gave me a sense of privacy from the apartment dwellers across the street from me. I have none of that now. With the terrible job this so-called tree expert company did to the beautiful trees of my block, I feel a piece of my own history has been lost forever.

Is this supposed to be progress and our tax dollars at work? I don't think so.

- Mel


Anonymous said...

Sadly this is probably another example of the incomptiance we see everyday or it's someone's brother-in-law (if you know what I mean).

Anonymous said...

I think this could be picked up by one of the daily papers if you write to them to investigate. Such as New York Times Metro section: metro -at-

Maybe Metro NY daily paper.

NY Daily News, NY Post...

What about sending the letter to the company itself?

This is very sad. Thank you Mel for reading up on this and educating yourself - and now us/me.

Maybe there's *something* that can be done to help these trees but you won't get the shade back.

I'm sorry for the loss.


Anonymous said...

Try heavy-handed pruning in front of 61-02 76 Street in Middle Village. The Parks Department ruined a 50-year-old tree. It might as well just have chopped the tree down entirely.

Kurt said...

That is absolutely hideous. And a crime.

Anonymous said...

They showed up on our block about 10 years ago.

Chop chop chop.

Left all the damn braches for us to pick up.


Ilona said...

It's the NYC Parks Department who conduct this Tree Pruning. Supposedly they schedule it every 10 years. My area (Bellerose) is scheduled tomorrow and Monday. They even put no parking stickers on the tiny 1 - 2 year old trees. Ridiculous. Complain to the NYC Parks Dept. I know I will if our trees are destroyed.

Anonymous said...

To be totally honest with you, street side trees need to be trimmed a minimum of 14ft above the road and yes the best time to trim is during the dormant period of the tree cycle, except often times the contracts that are drawn up by the contractor does not take this into consideration since the company needs to keep employees employed all year long and if companys such as Asplundh worried about the dormant time of year for trees, there would be hundreds of people out of work for monthes at a time. Not too easy to get by without a paycheck! Most tree companys do their best when trimming and in my experience Asplundh is no different, often times the contract that the company is under is to blame. Citing specific pruning techniques that the company must obide. So just be patient, it all grows back!