Should I have my Norway Maple removed?

charmedMarch 27, 2006

When we bought our first house 3 yrs ago, one of the things I most disliked about it was the backyard tree. I hate to call a tree ugly, but it really is, and the dense shade is unwelcome since my next door neighbor's huge Holly and numerous Pines and Yews already shade our yard quite a bit. I want some sunlight and air circulation! For a time, I considered removal out of the question - it just seemed very wrong to even think about removing a tree. However, I'm pretty sure the tree in question is a Norway Maple, which is non-native and considered invasive in my state. Last summer, I'd almost decided on turning it into a snag, and growing some sort of native vine on it, but now I really think I just want it gone. I've even got a baby Serviceberry (A.laevis) to plant instead, although in a more suitable spot (the current tree is too close to the house and cuts off my view of the children playing. My problem is that friends and relatives are expressing a lot of shock and disapproval and it's making me question whether it's the 'right thing to do.' Isn't it actually a good idea to remove non-native invasives? I admit it doesn't seem particularly invasive, but what if birds are spreading the seeds? I have a small, urban backyard, and I'd really like to make it as ecologically friendly (and attractive to birds!) as possible. What do you think -- would it be a good or bad thing to get rid of the Norway Maple? Thanks

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janet_e(6B PA)

It is a good thing to remove an invasive Norway maple, especially since you're planning to replace it with a native tree that has value for wildlife. But also, in a small yard, there is no reason to keep a plant you don't love.

I removed a large Norway maple from my yard a few years ago. It was one of the best things I did for the garden -- no more dense, dark shade, no more dry, rooty soil.

If people express horror about the idea of cutting down a tree, you could use it as an opportunity to tell them about the value of planting native species, and the benefit to wildlife of the serviceberry.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 9:04PM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I would definitely get rid of the Norway Maple. My reasons include:

You cannot grow anything beneath a Norway Maple. It creates dense shade, has shallow roots, and is (so I have read) alleopathic - it creates chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants.

It is very invasive in PA. In fact, I think it may be the worst invasive plant in PA because it invades mature, undisturbed woodlands (most invasive plants tend to take over disturbed areas), and because it looks enough like a native tree that most people dont notice it taking over. However, once Norway Maples start taking over a woodland most of the shrub and forb (wildflower) layer dies out, leaving a woodland of Norway Maples, a few older tees that were there before the Norway Maples took over, and only a few species of shrubs and wildflowers, most of which aren't native. If you live within a quarter mile or so of a woodland, your Norway Maple will eventually destroy the woodland.

Aesthetics - I hate to see Norway Maples because there are so many native trees that would grow in exactly the same places, would look better, and would demonstrate an appreciation of our native fauna. There never was any reason to import Norway Maples except for people in the nursery business to have the next big thing to sell. This type of reckless importation of plants has done more damage to native ecosystems than almost any other human activity (It has done a lot more damage than any type of pollution, and more than any other activity except development and agriculture).

Finally, get rid of the Norway Maple because it is pretty useless as a wildlife-attracting plant. Sure, birds will perch in it, perhaps nest there, etc., but any native tree would host far more interesting insects (butterflies, moths), birds, and other wildlife.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 9:12AM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

"Should I have my Norway Maple removed?"

Yes. You will be very glad you did.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 9:25AM
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Yes, in this case I think it is the right thing to do. To the shocked neighbors, you'll be setting apowerful example and empowering them to do the same. Instead of being controlled by the standards of your community, you'll define them.

All this said, I watch the parrots of Telegraph Hill last night. It raises some interesting questions about natives versus non-native and whether advocates of native species sometimes go too far. For myself, I think there is a balance, but certainly a species like a Norway maple known to be invasive should be removed.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 12:27PM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

Norway maple is listed as one of the most serous threats by the state government of Maryland. In other words, it is a destroyer of habitat in your state. You should feel proud, not guilty to help save the plants of your state. See the web site below.

Someone in my neighborhood got out a chainsaw and carved a standing bear out of an old tree trunk. It was really cool until it was lost to development. I keep a large dead tree by my garage. Northern flickers have raised babies two summers now in that tree.

The trunk wood might also be good for crafting. I have seen circular slices of trunk, with bark still attached used for signs. Also makes cool stepping stones, or chair seats.
The norways maples I lived around were real carpenter ant attractors which I hated. I don't actually hate the ants, just hate them crawling all over me when I got near those trees

Here is a link that might be useful: State list of dangerous Invasives in Maryland

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 1:32PM
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lakedallasmary(8 - North Central TX)

Best reason to cut it you hate it.

We chopped down some pointy leave holly bushes and some ugly christmas tree looking junipers when we first moved here. And yes it does feel bad to cut a living thing down, but yuck. one of the reasons we buy houses is so we can landscape the way we want to.

We are also very soon, cutting down a cotton wood and
a hedge of photinias. I hate these too!

Although the cotton wood is native, it is very ugly. The
arborist that cut down that other stuff says it has distructive root systems.

There are many reasons to cut down trees, but hating it
is good enough all by itself.

The photinias, shade off a large part of that yard and are about 12 feet tall or more. They are not native. I feel bad as the birds hang out in there. Plus they are ever green and not much else in my yard is, except the small live oaks. I need to plant something else there, but anything I plant will take a while to mature.

anyway, my vote cut it down.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 8:22PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Cut it down.

Not all trees are sacred. Its too close to the house and you don't like it. Invasive or not - those two items right there answer your question for you.

Somewhere along the line, people have joined an every tree is sacred club, when that is simply not reality. Its a landscaped yard, not virgin timber.

Go ahead and be proud that you are removing an icky tree and replacing it with something that you prefer.

Norway maples really don't make good landscape trees simply because you cannot grow anything else near them....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 8:53PM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

Kill kill kill kill. I applaud anyone who takes out a Norway maple.

I have six of the things, full-sized and would take them all down if I could afford to.

In my neighborhood they have some bark-splitting disease and one of mine has a dead leader - I will probably have that tree cut entirely and what a relief not to have to pull seedlings out of the front yard at any rate.

There are Green Acres woods in Princeton that quite literally are nothing but Norway maple. And garlic mustard. Very sad.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 10:48AM
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rsmallen(z6 PA)

We purchased our home 20 years ago complete with the requisite foundation yews...which went away years ago and a big old maple tree out front. Came to learn when my son did his tree project in middle school it was Norway maple. Came to learn later about Natives. Came to want to kill that tree soon after but my husband fussed. A few years of nagging and I won out. Now truthfully, the birds loved to nest and play in it. But nothing grew under it, the roots came up out of the soil and little Norway maples popped up everywhere for me to rip out unmercifully. It also had a big old dark rotten spot in the trunk.

Last year I won. It got cut down and stump ground out. My neighbors were thrilled...but not for the right reasons. They are just not tree people.

This year I hired a native/natural landscape designer to do a design for my front, rear, side yards. We are beginning to implement it now and will do so over the next year. Guess what goes in an island bed out front in almost the identical spot the Norway was? A sugar maple. Guess you can imagine THAT conversation of justification with my dear husband....and I am already anticipating the neighbors reaction when it goes in the ground along with a Washington Hawthorne in a few short weeks...

Take yours OUT. You will be so much happier when it is replaced!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 12:12PM
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I was delighted to read this post.. being newly transplanted from Dave's Garden and having virtually all of my attempts at educating people about invasives and why to remove them when you can squashed by the admin.. Would love to know their agenda.. anyway, right I live on a property that is for all intents and purposes mainly Norway maple and European buckthorn. I've got a couple of ash and black walnut but by and large if I were to remove all of the Norways and buckthorn bushes my yard would look like.. I just moved from a big city and had to get rid of all of that green stuff.. ie, it would be bare. But I've culled the smaller ones and am replanting, it would be too big a job to do in one fell swoop anyway..

I'm a reconstructive gardener, when I come to a place I do *not* feel the need to efface the work of all previous residents of said garden.. I like to fix what I don't like and leave what works, it's not a confinement to me but a challenge. The exception is invasives.. and aggressive weedy species that don't take any green skin to grow.. I have no problem getting either of those out, and applaud anyone who plans on removing theirs..

Three days ago on the only sugar maple in my yard I watched from a few yards away as a red-bellied woodpecker clung to the bark and looked to me as though it were sipping the sap. While a mourning cloak butterfly hovered around, stopping to presumably do the same at the holes on the opposite side of the tree. Stark comparison to the rest of the gray Norway trunks that would not support that particular interaction of native species.
Enjoy your serviceberry ;)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 10:09AM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

Did you get rid of the Maple? I'm kinda done with DG, too, Byron.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 4:03PM
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Better "play REALLY nice" at Dave's... or he'll let you know about it, lol.

'bout as exciting as flat root beer. :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 5:52PM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

I got booted today from DG for what I wrote above. I couldn't deal with the "CandyLand" sunshine and bunny rabbits don't ever disagree with anyone ever stuff there. And yes, if I wanted to know about invasive or indigenous plants, I sure wouldn't go to those forums on DG. There are just WAAAAAY too many people on those forums who have no problem with planting invasive plants, and if you call them on it, no matter how tactfully, you're a bad guy. I agree with you, Chelone. Flat root beer. Good riddance, DG.

Now, about those Norway Maples.........

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 7:03PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Let me get this straight... you got booted on DG for something that you posted on THIS website? or did you get booted for posting something there, that you also posted here?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:23AM
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Take it down of corse!You will never regret it.I been living on my property of eight, mostly wooded acres,for a few years,and I always had a funny feeling about a number of strange-looking sugar maples scattered about.After a large poplar tree fell a number of these understory trees conspicuously went to seed and I reconized my mistake.I immediatly went about identifiying and girdeling ever norway maple I could find.They"re easy to tell apart If you look.That was last summer,and despite my efforts they all leaf out this spring.No flowers though.One I even chained saw 1/3 the way thru all the way around and lit a bondfire at its base.Still got its leaves but it doesnt look too good.I found about twenty small to medium trees in all.I've seen vast areas of woodlands in New York completely taken over by this ugly plant.Kill it!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:08AM
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the council wont let me take my norway maple down they said it is a lovely tree, they said they r going to prune it, i think they have put an enviroment protection order on it, it is huge and it is only about 3 meters away from my house, my garden is tiny, i cant do anything with it. does anyone no how i can kill it without anyone thinking it was me, i dont want to sound nasty, but it is to big for a front garden and if im not allowed 2 cut it down what can i do

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 5:16AM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

You need your own arborist to tell you the tree is diseased, verticillium wilt and anthracnose are killing many of the maples here. An accidental weekly spill/dousing of full bottles of concentrated brush killer might do it. It will die slowly of "disease". Of course I wouldn't tell you to do anything illegal. sooo... aren't there liabilty issues for the council in forcing you to keep this tree that is invasive, soon to be diseased and obviously too close to your home? Not fond of lawyers generally but having one or two as friends does come in handy at times. Lawyer up and the council will back down.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 11:10AM
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loris(Z6 NJ)


I went to your member page, and see you're listed as living in the UK, and I'm assuming that's up to date information. I had never heard before that Norway Maples were invasive in the UK, but then again, I wouldn't be too likely to hear it. I apologize for mentioning this if you're already aware, but plants that are invasive in one area are not necessarily invasive in a different area. I'm not as good at finding information on the web for the UK as I'd be for my local area, but I tried. I found one link that does list it as a concern, and I'm listing it.

I hope other people on this forum have more definitive information, but if not, if I were you and hadn't done so already I'd try to confirm the plant is a problem where I lived. If it was invasive, I'd try to convince the council to let me remove the tree by presenting them with reputable sources for the information. I'm also attaching a link for Garden Web UK, since maybe people there would have more information. Maybe you can find the equivalent of the native plant societies many US states have. Norway maples aren't gorgeous, but except for the shallow surface roots I wouldn't really mind them if it wasn't for the fact that they're harming habitat in this area.

You might also want to see if any of the links from here have information to let you know whether or not the plant is a problem in your area

Hope it all works out well.


Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening in the UK

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 12:13PM
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I sometimes volunteer at various organizations in the area of Philly, and, when I volunteered with Friends of the Wissahickon, we removed several saplings of Norway maple to make way for the planting of native species at the Thomas mansion in fairmount Park. I asked the expert there how one can tell the difference between a Norway maple and other maples, and he explained that when you break the stem of the leaf open, it will be white and milky inside if it is a Norway maple. Just for your FYI. If that tree IS a Norway maple, and you have the money for it, KILL, KILL, KILL. I just recently moved to a house that has a HUGE ailanthus tree growing in the yard, and I was qouted 5 grand to take it down. I'll tell you, if I didn't have to spend the money on a gajillion other necessary things in this house, I would remove it, just so I don't have to see as many ailanthus weeds popping up all over the neighborhood! Are Norway maples those trees that have those green flowers in the spring before they get any leaves?


    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 10:21PM
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Everything around my Norway Maple just languishes. The autumn splendor of this tree is gone and every year the leaf displays a black tar- like patch. Years prior it was turning a nice yellow before it fell. Now the only redeeming thing is the summer shade it gives as I face west where it really DOES shade the roof and aid the house a/c.
However, I noticed a large crack at the crotch of a major limb and feared the worst. I trimmed it as best I could.
The alternative is removal. I was quoted $600.00 that would only "grind" the stump. Damn I hate this tree.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:38PM
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I had two that self-seeded on my property in woodlands when the property was owned by the prior owner. They were 20' tall. I cut one down. That was 15 years ago. I'm kicking myself for not cutting the other one down as it's now 50' and I'd have to pay someone.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:04AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Over the years I've had 4 large Norways removed, and countless smaller ones. And I mean hundreds, ranging from seedlings up to 8 or 9 inch diameter. The previous owner let them spread around like crazy! I have 1 tree remaining, it is a humongous behemoth and I fantasize about that thing being chopped down on a regular basis. But, it would be costly, and I'm planning to move in a year or 2 so not sure if it would be worth it.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 3:57PM
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And another super-excellent reason to take it down is, as you said, it is too close to the house. A small tree is not too dangerous, or expensive to remove. But, let it get older, short lived trees like Norway Maple start rotting, dropping branches or holding large, weak branches over the nearby house, making it much, much more dangerous and much more expensive to remove than the younger version of the same tree. Norway Maples really are not good trees (there are so many natives that are so much better) and they are so much worse when they are near a building.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:05AM
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Buy a gallon of Remedy, mix it 1:4 with diesel fuel, and spray this around the lower 12"-18" of the trunk. The tree should die where it stands.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Norway Maple does not host native distributions of local insect populations. This is a threat to local future biodiversity.

The local forest resources web site recommends immediate removal of the trunks and later clipping the stump sprouts, girdling to kill before cutting, injecting the cambium with glysophate.

It all sounds so lethal but those Norways are really prolific in the US, the seeds germinate incredibly well. My hometown neighborhood has a stream/wetland area with lots of trees upland of the stream. That area is FILLED with Norways. It would really enhance the area to be able to replace them with native trees and shrubs, but such a patch is tough to work on.

Should I try a few techniques on a few trees and determine which one to use on the whole area? Should I have them all removed with a chainsaw and clip stump sprouts all over there for years and years afterwards? Its something of a problem for the local ecology.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:43AM
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I somewhat understand the mentality behind removing Norway maple trees. If you live near a greenbelt/forested area, definitely get it removed! If you see that it had a girdling root and it will die, remove it! But if it poses no threat to natural life, such as a street tree in a subdivision, then why remove it. I am not saying to plant them anymore, just don't remove them.

My neighborhood has all types of Norway maples and I do not understand why people say that grass does not grow beneath them, I have yet to see one without grass under it...

On the other hand I can bare to see all the Norway maples with girdling roots, I guess it is both a good and bad thing... Good because my city is replacing them with native trees (except for next to light posts, they are planting columnar norway's, Stupid if you ask me). But on the other hand it is sad to see that most of these trees will eventually die. I guess it is the city, residents and developers fault that they planted these trees. I'd say less than 50% of them have normal root flares.

The worst ones regarding girdling roots are the Crimson King Norways. Not sure why this variety seems to have a lower success rate...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:46PM
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We just removed ours, huge mature thing... I wrestled with the decision for weeks and lost sleep and finally decided that I could and would plant at least 3 trees to replace it.
I definitely upset my neighbor (but I let him know in advance and has his overhanging trees trimmed at my expense) but now it's all done I am so glad I made this decision.
We have already planted a dogwood. Have a pansy redbud ready to go in next weekend. Excited to have so much to work with now and establishing flower beds where we can raise perennials and grasses to attract wildlife and make the most of our relatively small back yard.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 7:18PM
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OmG I'm another just another unhappy homeowner with that Norway Maple I've tried to justify, having in my front and 15' from my living room window for years
Thanks to everyone who will like myself will find the resolve to have it removed Once and for all people.
The shade thing I'll deal with later. I can always find another. Its' sucked the life out of my Junipers and grass.. Good riddance to it

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 7:58PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I just noticed this old post has been bumped many times. Well, I finally had my last huge Norway removed last March. What an improvement! When a big Norway comes down it reminds of the biblical expression "let there be light", haha.

There are still 2 large trees in that part of the yard (Ash and Linden) so it's not full sun, but finally other plants have a chance to grow. This makes me very happy because I've expanded the veggie garden a little, and been working on the privacy border down that side of the yard.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2014 at 1:58AM
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Yes, remove the non-native tree so that native bluegrass and native cultivars of small ornamental trees and non-native junipers can grow better!

Hehe, I'm being a bit sarcastic there, but some of this is just circular logic mumbo-jumbo. If you don't like the tree, for whatever reason, or set of reasons, take it down. But ugly? I thought that was in the eye of the beholder. I do agree with somebody up above that whereas fall color of Norway maples used to be quite good, the advancement of tar spot fungus has all but ruined that effect.

In the main, I'm with Huggorm on this one: If you're near a natural, wooded area, get rid of the Norway maple(s)-they really will invade, (And probably already have). But a tree isolated from "nature", if it's still providing benefits, is not especially damaging to the environment.

Another thing I see time and time again in threads like this is something that goes like: We took down our huge Norway maple and now we're going to plant a serviceberry (or flowering crab, or red bud, or....) These are all worthwhile plants, but you're not exactly replacing like with like. In every case darn near, it's a big, mature shade tree being replaced by a small-growing ornamental tree that somehow the property owner feels less intimidated by. But it's not a one for one replacement, not now and not ever. What I'm saying is, if the Norway maple was doing a good job but was just the wrong species, a sugar maple or some kind of oak might be a more apt replacement. There are places for the serviceberries and red buds too, but they're ornamental trees, not big, structural shade trees. There is a difference.

Incidentally, much of my work involves "native restoration". We had a big job restoring an eroded stream bank in a heavily-wooded ravine. Of course, all plants spec'd for this job were natives. So what does the contractor bring up for sugar maples? Yup.........Norway maples in a native restoration! They even had the gall to argue with me about it! At one point, they were saying the reason they appear to be Norway maples was because they were cultivars of sugar maple! Needless to say, that contractor won't be back up here any time soon. I shudder to think though of'all the jobs they supplied (based in Chicagoland) that didn't have a plant guy on hand to check the stock as it came to the job site. somebody's getting a lot of crap plants!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2014 at 1:30PM
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And stop eating potatoes (how much habitat do you think these nonnatives take up?). All nonnative corn, all nonnative agricultural land. man: 71% of our planet is used up by this. The potato is killed by the native Colorado beetle, so I guess you need to get some of these resistent to the poison used against it.

This nativeness will be an ideology we all will laugh about in a century or so. I just have to laugh at this all...

    Bookmark   October 13, 2014 at 5:07PM
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