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Fall Color Marred by Cleavage

Fall Color Marred by Cleavage

Guest Rant by Wendy Kiang-Spray


I am not an arborist.  Nor am I a landscape architect, city planner, neighborhood developer, or anything of the sort. This is why I’m so confused about the planting of large trees under phone and power lines.  Throughout my neighborhood, these trees grow so large that they need to be viciously pruned regularly.  The beautiful color this time of year highlights only the part of the tree that actually exists.  It’s impossible to admire the gorgeous trees in my community with their brilliant oranges and golds and not notice that through the top center, many trees are cleaved practically in half.  It always makes me think of the T-1000 in Terminator 2.  Unlike the liquid-metal robotic villain in the movie though, the poor trees can’t recompose.

A little over 10 years ago, I planted a Southern magnolia about 5 feet from my house.  That…might be a problem if the tree grows to its full size.  But hey, I was young, just bought a house, and nothing makes one feel more adult than planting a tree.  All I knew at the time was that it was pretty and I wanted it.  But the arborists, or city planners, or landscape architects, don’t they know better?  Shouldn’t they have better options for types of trees that should be planted right up under the telephone and power lines?  Doesn’t it make more sense to choose the right kind of tree rather than sending an army of trucks out to whack the tops of these way-too-tall trees every year?  Perhaps there’s some very good explanation for this.  Just a layman here.  Can someone help me understand?

Wendy Kiang-Spray is a freelance garden writer working on her first book about growing and cooking Chinese vegetables. She gardens in Rockville, Maryland and volunteers with the DC Master Gardeners. Follow her garden happenings at Greenish Thumb or on Facebook.

Posted by

Wendy Kiang-Spray

on November 7, 2013 at 8:10 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, Guest Rants.

4 Comments

    • admin
    • 17th December 2016

    Yes! same story here. We’ve had a lot of the dreaded “wintry mixes” recently and PEPCO, which is a whole other rant, has been coming around with their contractors. I suspect this is a big part of why our neighborhood is so chopped up.

    • Susan hines
    • 17th December 2016

    I feel your pain. At one point, many cities planted the Bradford pear in response to the same concerns you express regarding power lines. Unfortunately, these trees, AKA lolly pop trees proved short lived on and not particularly stable.

    • Karin
    • 17th December 2016

    In recent years telephone poles have had thick fiber optic cables attached lower down on the pole than the original thin telephone lines in my neighborhood. Now the city or the utility company comes and butchers older trees that once were fine with the higher lines. It’s ugly topiary on a grand scale

    • admin
    • 17th December 2016

    Now that you mention it, I’ve noticed they’ve come around and installed lines higher up (the opposite of your neighborhood). I’m looking outside and these lines are about…15 feet higher. Not enough to clear the tops of the trees though.

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