I am always surprised when visitors to our garden ask the identity of the big tree that hovers over our deck (and house). It's a mature Honey Locust that was planted when our house was built in 1954. I'm not sure of the reason for their surprise and delight, but it does seem to suggest that most folks don't let their locusts get this big. Before we began our garden we had this tree pruned and we talked to the arborist about where we could safely put our pond as well as how to protect this important tree during garden construction. That was in 1996-7, and neither Mark nor I are sure if we've had the Locust pruned since then.
These trees tend to shade out their lower branches which then die and can come down in a storm. Or on a windy summer afternoon when you're sitting under the tree enjoying a gin and tonic. Not necessarily a bad way to go, but rather a problem if you're partying with friends and neighbors. So last summer Mark and I interviewed arborists about pruning the Locust. We were more concerned about how much to take off and where, than how much it might cost us. Safety and aesthetics were our concerns and since we hadn't had the tree pruned in ten or fifteen years, we were prepared to pay what it cost. After watching Peter Kaseman-Wold take down a tree in a neighbor's yard, we hired his 12-year-old company, Goodland Tree Works, to prune our Locust.
Peter and his team arrived on Monday morning, March 31. We had thought it might be possible to do the work during the winter when the garden was dormant and the pond was frozen. But it was too cold and snowy to work in the garden until the last few days. The shrubs, paths and rocks were finally visible and the snow had melted off the roof of the house making the garden safe for the Goodland crew to work in.
While Peter and my husband, Mark, talked about what to cut out of the tree, the guys brought their tools and safety equipment into the back garden. Despite the saws this was a surprising quiet job once they got going.
They brought back big sheets of plastic which they put down in the areas where they dropped and piled branches. They also used orange cones to note emerging flowers and small shrubs that needed protection. They used the grey garbage can to haul out small branches but first they put it upside down over a tiny tree that needed protection.
Peter and another member of his team went up into the tree climbing up ropes. Pretty fascinating to watch these guys in action!
When you see how small two guys in the tree appear, it gives you a sense of how big the Locust really is. The building in the foreground is our Tea House, then our house at the bottom of the garden and our neighbor's house on the other side of the fence.
I love watching tree trimmers work but I must admit that I find it equal parts fascinating and horrifying!
I know they are wearing safety harnesses and they definitely knew what they were doing, but it is scary to a person who has a fear of heights and rarely climbed trees as a kid (me!).
It was a perfect day for the job with the day starting out cool and cloudy. By the time they left just before noon, the sun was out and it felt like Spring had finally arrived.
Trimmings are starting to pile up underneath the tree. You can also see where critters ate all the branches on the dwarf burning bush (foreground of the photo). My two dwarf Ginkgoes nearby were protected by cages.
Our Honey Locust has a huge canopy with branches that extend way out. And a lot of the trim work needed to be done out near the edges of those branches — and up near the top of the tree.
The size of the piles of prunings clearly showed us how much was coming off the tree. Now and then I would hear footsteps on the roof but there were never any big bangs of branches falling. Everything seemed to be lowered under control with skill and surprising speed.
The noisiest part of the morning was chipping the branches which one of the guys started doing as they were nearing the end of the trimming. The guys also chomped up the branches we'd picked up in the yard that had come down during winter storms, thus saving us a trip to Badger Rd. recycling.
Since it was obvious that Mark and I are gardeners, Peter asked us if we would like to do the final cleanup rather than have him do it. That would save us some money but more importantly we knew that we'd be going over the area again no matter how well they cleaned it. That's what gardeneres do at this season: we pick up every little twig we can find!
The photo at the top of this post is a "before" shot of the Honey Locust before pruning. The picture below is an "after" shot. In person, it's easy to see how much more open the tree is. But I think the photos are more deceptive, making the changes hard to see.
It reminds me of my philosoply of haircuts: I want my hair to always look good and always look the same. You shouldn't be able to tell when I've had it cut. I think Goodland's tree trimming is the same: our tree looks terrific, just the way it should.
We're both more than happy with the job that Peter Kaseman-Wold and Goodland Tree Works did for us. We'll certainly use them again. And we won't wait fifteen years between trimmings next time.
As a gardner, I want to emphasize how much they listened to Mark and my wishes about protecting our plants. These guys were working around an area that had lots of small trees and shrubs and clumps of snowdrops. I don't think they so much as disturbed a snowdrop bud; a very impressive job. Also we hired Peter based on talking to him, watching his crew work and recommendations by friends. We are not getting any remuneration for this endorsement. Good work needs to be appreciated and complimented and what better place than a garden blog?