Removing Huge Shade Tree, Need Replacement Suggestions

ribidibi(6)June 11, 2011

We need to remove a huge Norway Maple (24" diameter, about 80' tall) from our tiny yard in Boston. The space is 36' x 22' with the tree in the southeast corner. We have loved living with this tree -- the shade has been wonderful for us and all our neighbors that gather in our patio area. But... the central trunk was cut off by the previous owners (maybe 15 years ago). The tree has 3 very large limbs around the central stump. The stump has become hollow and we see squirrels going in there all the time. We've been told by an arborist that the tree should be removed. We had our fingers crossed during the recent severe storm that came through. All the neighbors did, too! Whichever direction it fell in, it would take out a house! So... we want to replace the tree with another shade tree and have a hardscape that doesn't get warped by big top roots. We need both shade and a privacy screen. And, we're getting up there in years, so we also want a farily fast-growing tree (we're going to allocate a chunk of change to getting a bigger tree to go in there). So, suggestions... what to consider, what to look out for (no messy or smelly tree issues, please), and any other ideas you might have.

Thx! Ri

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diggingthedirt

Ri, the tree forum is chock full of really helpful (if occasionally somewhat opinionated!) people. I hope you'll post this question there, too. I suspect that at least one of the experts there will point out that 'fast growing' is pretty much synonymous with 'weak wooded' so you may want to consider a tree with a moderate growth rate.

You have my sympathy - I know how hard it is to lose a tree from the center of your yard, even if it's a "bad" tree like a Norway Maple.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 12:29AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Yes, I agree with DTD that the tree forum is a good place to post this question, it is full of very knowledgeable people that could help. You have a number of issues going on here, small lot, urban setting, dealing with stump/roots of old tree, etc. and it would be best to get expert advice.

It sounds like some previous owner cut down the original tree, and it re-sprouted from the stump. A multi-trunk tree growing from sprouts coming off a rotten stump is not a very stable situation, and one of those trunks could split off. Good idea to remove the tree.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 4:17AM
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ribidibi(6)

Thanks for the responses. I will go post in the tree forum, too.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 10:55PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Another maple would fit the bill.

Silver maples grow the fastest of any maples but you eventually pay a price for that with weak wood that breaks in storms (although that is many years down the road). A red maple grows very fast but usually has a better branching structure and somewhat stronger wood that holds up better in storms. They also have fantastic fall color. Freeman maples are a cross between red and silver maples and have a growth rate in between. I have one planted in my front yard. It's a variety called Autumn Blaze that is available just about anywhere including Lowe's and Home Depot. To get some idea of it's growth rate, here is a picture of it when it was planted in 2002 and pics from summer and fall from 2009. It is significantly larger now than in 2009. Red maples (e.g. Red Sunset, October Glory) won't grow quite this fast but they won't be too far behind.

2002

2009

2009 Fall Color

href="http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v298/Tree_Oracle/Landscaping/?action=view&current=Autumn-Blaze.jpg"; target="_blank">

I would also consider a Pin Oak. They grow very fast although very vertical for the first few years and they have fantastic fall color. Red Oaks grow rather quickly, too. A London Planetree will give the growth that you are looking for. They don't have too much in the way of fall color but their exfoliating bark is exceptional. The leaves are more of an olive green but how green the leaves of this species are depends on which cultivar that you buy. I would also consider a birch tree. They grow exceptionally fast and their bark is stunning. They aren't as long-lived as the other trees that I've mentioned, though and you may have to plant more than one for the same amount of shade coverage as a maple or oak. One other choice to consider is a Japanese zelkova. They are in the elm family and consequently look like the American Elm but they are highly resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. The fastest growing cultivar of this species is called Green Vase which has a beautiful bronzy orange fall color. I have two zelkova cultivars in my front yard called Village Green that also have good fall color.

They wouldn't tell you this on the Tree Forum but if you want a super fast growing tree, a Weeping Willow or a Bradford pear would give you very quick growth. However, both trees are extremely weak wooded and they will eventually drop branches including in some cases major branches. Weeping Willows are also notorious for their aggressive root system which will seek out water anywhere including septic drain fields and sewer pipes (if they can find a crack in which to get a foothold). I'm not suggesting that you plant these especially next to your house. I just wanted to throw out that information.

Just drop me an email if you want to know more about a particular tree that you may be considering.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:44PM
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Lizey66

I have two Norway maples that I hate in every way EXCEPT their remarkable shade. They frame the front of my 1850 house near the harbor though, and in some way (if you're not looking too closely) add charm at certain times of the year. But they kill everything around it, including my perennials and they get tar spot disease so they don't turn color other than ugly crumpled and dry brown, and they're invasive! BUT I must have trees in the front yard, ones that shade AND allow other plants nearby to grow. I'm also 66 and time's a wastin'. It sounds like an impossible request BUT is there anything I can plant to replace them-assuming I can afford to take them down-which might be a pipedream?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:59AM
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Lizey66

I have two Norway maples that I hate in every way EXCEPT their remarkable shade. They frame the front of my 1850 house near the harbor though, and in some way (if you're not looking too closely) add charm at certain times of the year. But they kill everything around it, including my perennials and they get tar spot disease so they don't turn color other than ugly crumpled and dry brown, and they're invasive! BUT I must have trees in the front yard, ones that shade AND allow other plants nearby to grow. I'm also 66 and time's a wastin'. It sounds like an impossible request BUT is there anything I can plant to replace them-assuming I can afford to take them down-which might be a pipedream?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:00AM
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Lizey66

I have two Norway maples that I hate in every way EXCEPT their remarkable shade. They frame the front of my 1850 house near the harbor though, and in some way (if you're not looking too closely) add charm at certain times of the year. But they kill everything around it, including my perennials and they get tar spot disease, and they're invasive! BUT I must have trees in the front yard, ones that shade AND allow other plants nearby to grow. I'm also 66 and time's a wastin'. It sounds like an impossible request BUT is there anything I can plant to replace them-assuming I can afford to take them down-which might be a pipedream?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:03AM
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ribidibi(6)

We did take the Norway maple down; replaced it with a river birch. It has grown a lot in the past 2 years. We love it, but do miss that amazing summer canopy of leaves. The river birch is a deep root tree, so we don't have to worry about the patio hardscape bulging from roots. My hostas are doing great under the tree.

Good luck, Lizzy66, with your tree.

Smiles, ribidibi

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 9:25AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I see this is an old thread that I posted to 2 years ago. I hate Norway maples, have removed 4 large ones and countless smaller trees from this lot (they are terribly weedy and invasive). Even though I don't want to live here too much longer, I still fantasize about removing the last huge tree (36" diameter) and probably will DO SO this winter. :)

Yes they cast a lot of shade, the canopy of Acer platanoides is very dense, and they grow aggressively. Between that and their allelopathic roots, it's hard to grow anything under a Norway. When a Norway maple is cut down, it's like God said "let there be light". Haha

Lizey, I would consider Oak, Sugar Maple, or perhaps a beautiful native rare tree like Yellowwood. You personally may not see the full benefit of a new tree(s), but this brings to mind the words of Thomas Jefferson: "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 6:21PM
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