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Removing the cottonwood

Posted by joeabbott on May 18, 2014

P1060191We had a cottonwood tree at the top of our backyard for all the years we lived here. It was a grand and healthy thing, but created enough problems we decided to have it removed.

The main reason for removing it was that it was getting quite big and, cottonwoods having notoriously weak wood, could drop branches at any time. These were typically nuisance issues but Seattle gets a couple good wind storms a year and even minor events like freezing rain or the heavy rains (especially the first ones of a season) would send branches down. When I started having to use a goodly amount of force to pull these from where they stuck spear-like into the ground, it felt like a safety issue.

On top of that, we’d had branches trimmed a couple times before when it got too big, had to constantly deal with sucker branches, the roots were pushing up our fencing slats, and in another place the trunk was pushing the fence over. These additive issues all constituted a need for a plan that removed the tree from our yard. And I haven’t even mentioned the huge quantities of fluff that would come off it yearly … and the ensuing saplings that peppered our yard!

When we started getting bids for the removal, we nearly opted to keep the tree: being at the top of our backyard, the only real access was from the other side of the fence: on a busy thoroughfare which was already under construction. But, we kept looking for bids and finally found the right company.

Another hurdle was working with the City on the necessary permits and approvals. As the tree falls on their property (yup, about 15’ within our fence line the City has easement\right-of-way ownership), but, as a healthy tree posing no real safety issues (in their opinion), they didn’t see removing it as a necessity. Recognizing that they had trimmed branches that were traffic hazards a couple times and the sidewalk that they’d leveled previously was being pushed up again, they waived our permit fees if we shouldered the removal cost. Seems they felt we were taking care of a problem for them, too.

The firm that did the removal, Superior NW, was referred to us by a friend who’d used their services. We were happy about all parts of their service: they met me at home to discuss the removal, were prompt on email responses, cleaned up the property, and had the right people and equipment to make the job easy. I should also note that a fella from the City, Aaron, took us under his wing a bit and did a fantastic job coordinating our requests with the City. When Superior NW showed up to get the permits, all avenues were prepped and the job sailed through. Many thanks to both Aaron and Steve Coe, the Superior NW arborist, who helped us.

But let’s get on with the job!

I worked from home the two days they were on our property removing the tree. If something came up I wanted to be here, and it was also interesting to see a 100’+ tree removed. We had also requested to have the chips from the branches so we could lay them about the yard as weed suppression. Someone would have to carry those 10 yards of chips about the yard!

Take a look at the project through the pictures I took.

Day 1

P1060204 P1060229 P1060236 P1060270

P1060278 P1060287 P1060301 P1060308

Day 2

P1060316 P1060320 P1060341 P1060342

P1060412 P1060413 P1060349 P1060362

P1060394 P1060448 P1060459 P1060460

P1060506 P1060516 P1060545


P1060554 P1060555 P1060543

WP_20140326_001 WP_20140326_003 WP_20140326_005


Well, removing the tree was a big, expensive job but we’re glad it’s out. We no longer need to worry about “spears” falling from above our yard and endangering our pets, ourselves, or our property; and the more minor hassles are removed as well. We got all the chip from the branches … the trunk parts were hauled away to be used for pulp manufacturing  … and our yard is covered in all the spots we’d need chip. And we have a small pile for reserve.

It’s surprising not only in how the removal changed the yard, but the additional changes we’ve made to the yard since it was taken out! We have a retaining wall and planting spot behind our bench, we’ve put in stone steps to the top of the backyard, and this past weekend we planted three paperbark birch trees. Our yard is in constant flux as we make it our own. But, time to stop typing and get on with the weekend.

Thanks for coming by to see what we’ve been doing!


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