As views of the Los Angeles harbor are valued here, good neighborly relations dictate annual tree trimming. I don't have all our trees trimmed each year but we tackle at least half of them annually. While we've done some of the trimming ourselves, especially in our early days in residence, I now hire all or most of the job out. I trust the crew we use each year but I still dread the collateral damage that routinely accompanies the process. This year, two specific areas were also of particular concern.
If you read my blog regularly, you may know that our mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin
) has posed challenges. It's a messy tree to start with, dropping litter in the form of flowers, leaves and seedpods almost continuously. It's bare of leaves for at least 4 months of the year and, in 2018, it didn't leaf out at all until late June. Of even greater concern, half the tree never leafed out at all.
|This was the tree in late January this year, after its last trimming. It was showing signs of damage due to shot hole borers and, in response we took out a few good-sized branches but left the tree's vase-like shape intact.|
|This was the tree in late July when it finally flowered. You'll note that while the back half of the tree looks normal, the front half was largely bare.|
I consulted an arborist in October and made the hard decision to remove three major limbs on the front side of the multi-trunked tree. I was afraid the tree would look freakish after major surgery like that but I'm not ready to cut the whole tree down quite yet. As it turned out, the tree doesn't look too bad when viewed from the front, although I can't say it looks entirely normal either.
|View of the front of the tree from the back door after surgery|
|When viewed from the side, it's much more apparent that half the tree is gone|
|This cut makes me nervous. I hope it heals over quickly.|
The other big change was made on the south side of the house, where I elected to take out one of the two tree-sized Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia
) and thin out the second. Both sat along our property line at the top of a sharp slope. We also cut down an extremely tall leader on an adjacent shrub (Auranticarpa rhombifolium
). My main concern in this case was to avoid any damage on our next door neighbor's side but, happily, that didn't prove to be a problem.
|The photo on the left was taken in January and the photo on the right was taken this past weekend after the smaller Toyon was cut down and the larger one was thinned. The smaller tree was growing almost on top of its parent, which wasn't good for either in the long run. The neighbors across the street had also expressed concern that the mass of foliage impaired their view. The upside of thinning the foliage is more light for the plants in my succulent bed and, as this area sits atop a slope, there's no significant loss of privacy.|
The rest of the tree trimming was relatively straightforward.
|All 4 of our Arbutus 'Marina' were thinned, which helps improve air circulation and prevents the sooty mold that can sometimes afflict these trees|
|The Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana, left) received a light trim to remove the dead twiggy stems and a limb trailing over the roof. The trimmers managed to leave most of the flowers alone. The Magnolia grandiflora (right) looks pretty bare at the moment but I know from experience that it'll quickly fill out.|
|The ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana) was suffering from fire blight. They trimmed out the affected leaves and thinned the foliage. I'll need to inoculate it against blight in the spring. This can be a messy tree too but regular trimming helps and, under current drought conditions, I'd prefer to avoid losing a mature shade tree I might not be able to easily replace.|
Other than a laurel hedge, that's everything that was touched in this round of trimming. I've spent a couple of hours every day this week cleaning up the affected areas. The crew does a good job at picking up the debris but they never get everything. Wind also shakes down branches that were cut during trimming but didn't immediately fall to the ground. Pots and garden furniture moved out of the way has to be put back. A lot of mulch gets picked up during the tree trimmers' clean-up too so I spent time replenishing that. (Next year I'll remember to hold off on mulching until after this annual exercise.) And of course some plants below the trees, particularly those sitting atop slopes, get squashed and must be either removed, replaced or cut back to allow them a chance to recover. I'm mostly done...
It'll be a busy weekend for me as Christmas is just around the corner and we're hosting family and friends on Saturday. However you're spending the weekend, I hope it's a good one.
All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party