Several weeks ago a local contractor cranked up an ancient, smoke-belching grinder and chewed up the huge stump of a silver maple in front of our home. The stump had graced our tree lawn since a year ago in August when the city downed the 75-foot tree. As far as I could determine, the tree was 80 to 85 years old when a city crew removed it.
We miss the tree. The maple shaded the front porch of our two-story, wood-frame home each summer afternoon and buffered the bitterly cold westerly winds each winter.
We bought the house in part because of the large spreading maples lining both sides of the quaint brick road in our older, quiet neighborhood. We had three in front of our home; only one remains.
Over the years the maples in our neighborhood grew older, more diseased and most of them had to go. Storms regularly dislodged large dead limbs. The roots of the trees wreaked havoc on the clay tile sewer lines running from our homes.
Even so, losing the maple was almost as painful as losing an old friend.
My wife and I shoveled the huge pile of wood and root chips into the back of my 2002 GMC pickup and disposed of them at the local green recycling center. On the way back home we stopped at Walmart and bought seven bags of topsoil and raked it into the circular hole where the stump had been. We may need more topsoil before we plant grass seed, but we won’t wait long to find out, as we want to get the turfgrass established this fall.
Although, technically, the tree lawn in front of our home is the city’s responsibility, we are required to mow and maintain it. We will also be required to maintain our new tree, once we plant it adjacent to where the maple once stood.
Our city, strapped for cash, does not have funds to replace the trees it takes down in residential neighborhoods. It also does a poor job of caring for the few trees it plants along the streets in our small downtown. It does not even water the new trees, it counts on merchants or volunteers to handle that task. Some trees get cared for and some don’t. Many of the newly planted trees in our public areas don’t last more than a few years for lack of regular care.
Like most of our neighbors, we will replace our old silver maple with a tree more appropriate in size to our small lawn, and we must choose from the list of species approved by the city tree commission. I will let my wife make the selection. We want to get a new tree in the ground yet this fall long before the ground freezes.
We may or may not be around long enough to see the tree grow large enough to provide the same shade the craggy old maple provided us for so many years. Who knows? No matter, we want whoever lives in our home (hopefully ourselves) to enjoy a beautiful street tree for many more years to come.