I hired a hitman

This is the target, my pathetic 14-year-old red maple. The branches at the top center are dead, as is the lower branch on the left. The entire tree is hopelessly misshapen, not at all what a handsome maple should be. And this is its best side!

I hired a hitman yesterday. One day soon, he and his henchmen are going to take out the designated target — a hopelessly malformed red maple in my front yard. I’ll probably feel even more like a murderer after it’s gone. It’s not a pretty tree and there’s little pruning can do to fix it. The center top third is dead, as is a large lower branch. The overall shape is irregular and not at all attractive. Sad, after 14 years.

Everybody wants street trees — notable, attractive trees of some size gracing one’s front yard. On my street, almost all such trees were planted in 2001 by the builder, who probably bought them dirt cheap in lots of several dozen (or hundreds?) and then looked the other way while minimum wage workers stuck them in shallow holes — in many cases probably not even removing the basket and wires around the roots.

A neighbor told me that a former owner, thinking the tree was dead or dying, had started chopping on it with the idea of removing it. He never finished the job. I’ve dragged my feet for eight years, hoping the tree would finally take hold, shape up, do its thing, or something. But no, it’s not grown significantly, it puts out weird branches from places no branch should spring, and it’s only half the size of many other trees on the block that were planted at the same time.

The tree is strategically positioned to block the line of sight between my front window and the garage door across the street. So I will miss it. I will feel guilty having it taken out. I will mourn its loss until the day next spring when some new tree — species yet to be determined — takes its place.


16 thoughts on “I hired a hitman

  1. Have you thought to plant another one in its place? They are such beautiful trees. I have many and the Red Sunsets or October Glory grow fairly fast

  2. Definitely time for seeking out a hit man for sure. Removing it while it is relatively young makes it easier to accomplish and easier on the pocket book.

    I also am a lover of maple trees but based solely on the photo you are showing, a Bradford Pear I think would also look quite pleasing with your architecture and landscaping. 🙂

    1. I love Bradford pears and have seen a lot of pears planted along public right-of-ways. A little research revealed that they are not Bradfords, but other varieties apparently more suited to this climate. Will need to research more to find the right variety that doesn’t look too spindly as some do. When it comes to gardening, I’m from the School of Benign Neglect. Once a plant or tree is in the ground and established, I don’t expect to have to do anything else to it. It must thrive on its own.

      Despite the mistreatment of this particular red maple, they do seem to be highly rated for this area and my front yard in particular.

  3. We had twenty-three Bradford pear trees on our property when we bought it eleven years ago, however they do not “weather” well here in Tennessee and I doubt they will do so in Colorado. The problem is the shape of the branches. If we get an early frost or snow, the weight of the moisture on the branches causes them to break off, splitting completely down the trunk of the tree. We now have fifteen of them and it cost us a small fortune to pay a company to trim them all so that snow would not harm them last winter.

    I’m sure that there are a lot of attractive trees more suited for your climate than Bradford pears. I really loved them BEFORE I had to live with them.

    1. 23 Bradford pears! Spring must have been spectacular. I’m sorry to hear you lost so many. As I noted above, Bradfords are not recommended for this area. But a number of other pear varieties are. If I decide to go that route, I’ll be sure to choose one recommended by the Colorado State Univ. Extension Div. This is a tough climate for anything but native trees, and given the expense, it pays to choose carefully. Trees are a longterm investment.

      1. All the Bradford pear trees were already planted before we bought this property. However, they are such lovely trees that we might have planted them ourselves had they not already been here. Now that we know about them, we would not of course. I’m glad you have a source of information regarding trees suitable for your area. Since we had seen other BP trees planted around this area we thought they WERE suitable, but learned the hard way the first winter we were here. Well, as they say, live and learn… We will definitely contact an expert in future.

    1. I adore crepe myrtle. Had lots of it in my yard in OKC. Don’t see much of it around here, though. I think for the middle of the front yard I’d really like a real tree. I’m just not sure what. I basically grew up under a huge old maple that shaded the house. Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of them.

      1. Also check out Hornbeams. I like Tulip Poplar too. Crepe Myrtle (the old kind) may not survive your winter. I am in growing zone 7B.

        USDA site on the web has recommendations for every growing zone. And your state agriculture Dept too. The latter is usually associated with the tech school (old land grant college?) in your state. Your area may not be suitable for Red Maple. I know you can grow Aspen and Birch. I love the Denver botanic garden and I bet they have ideas.

        1. Colorado State Extension Div. lists appropriate trees for the area, and red maple is one of them. It’s a tough climate and there really isn’t a lot to choose from compared to Oklahoma.
          I planted three aspens in the backyard a few years ago, even though everyone here advises against them (disease-prone, bad sucker habit, etc.). I just couldn’t see living in Colorado and not having some aspen.

... and that's my two cents