Doreen Mack: The trouble with trees

The ‘tree chair’ Doreen Mack had made from a wayward cottonwood.

The ‘tree chair’ Doreen Mack had made from a wayward cottonwood.

How we all love trees and the beauty and shade they offer. A sapling pops up and we are so happy and excited to let it grow knowing that it grew on its own and needs very little attention because it is already rooted. That is a big plus! So we think...

Fast forward 10 years. Now we are dealing with a cottonwood tree and its large trunk pushing into the roof eves and branches growing into the garage roof line that we had re-roofed five years ago. The metal flashing on the driveway kept the roots away, but it wasn't long before the concrete began to lift from those roots.

Lesson to be learned: If you want a tree, do your research and find one that is the appropriate size for the space. Keep it away from boundary lines. Our neighbor let his seedling trees grow until they pushed in the side wall and lifted the stone floor in our outbuilding. Fortunately, he removed the trees, but it had caused considerable damage to the inside of the building that we repaired.

We live in a 115-year-old home that we have completely renovated. About six years ago, we removed the more than 100-year-old apple tree that split in half. After it was removed a cottonwood seedling began to grow and our lovely neighbors on the other side asked us if we could let it grow, thinking that they grow fast and it would be great shade for both houses. We all agreed and rapidly learned that we made a bad decision.

The branches break easily and you hear horror stories about them falling over with a large gusts of wind, especially in very wet winters. It grew to around 100 feet tall and we all agreed to have it removed and shared the cost. Wilson’s Trees did an excellent job removing it and the one next to our garage. We love the tree chair they made for us from the trunk. The neighbors used the stumps to line their sidewalk. So, all the wood was put to good use.

The other thing to consider when planting any tree is where your roots are in comparison to your water, utility lines and foundations. If it is a fruit tree, it needs to be manageable in height for fruit picking and maintained. Our cherry tree gets over 30 feet tall and the cherries cannot be reached with a ladder, so we just had it topped. Also, any fruit on the ground attracts animals – squirrels, skunks, deer and other wildlife.

Fruitless plum, cherry, pear and maple trees are excellent yard trees for size and esthetics. With all this cold, icy weather, the city had to remove the tree branches in our alley power lines that grew into the transformers and almost caused a fire.

Elm trees grow everywhere and show up in rose bushes, planter boxes, etc. They are known as dirty trees for all the sap they continually drop and they spread like weeds, just like the cottonwoods.

You can see dwarf evergreen trees that make great fence borders and accent trees at

Just make sure they are adaptable to our area, not too tall to clear power lines and the branch spread is within reason. Do your research and pay attention to JoAnne Skelly’s gardening articles in the Nevada Appeal.

Safe and happy planting. God bless you all.

Doreen Mack is a Carson City-based business owner. 


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