P80808This rant may not go in the direction you expect it to. The pictures suggest that this would be about the bad vegetation management crews who severely disfigure trees that get too close to utility cables. It is not.
This is about horticultural ‘professionals’ who plant trees where they will encroach into utility cables, with no regard to what might eventually be done to them in order to keep electrical service reliable and safe. The native oak in these pictures likely grew from seed, so unless someone knows the squirrel who buried the acorn, there is no one to blame. Many of us who enjoy home gardening are sometimes not aware of how tall and wide particular trees can get when we plant them. Horticultural ‘professionals’ should know better! That is what they charge so much money for when they design a landscape.
Palm trees are the worst! They grow only upward, with only a single terminal bud. Once that terminal bud encroaches into a utility easement, there is no option to prune back to another branch that might direct growth around the easement. ‘Pruning’ the only terminal bud back kills the entire tree. Yet, some landscape ‘designers’ continue to prescribe the all too trendy queen palm for the backsides of urban landscapes, even if utility cables are back there like they so typically are.
The oak in these pictures got a Bullwinkle cut, with big ‘antlers’ reaching upward and to the left and right of cables that are directly above. The lower picture sort of shows a ‘step back’ cut into the top for clearance from other perpendicular cables that pass over that edge rather than directly above. The tree is in surprisingly good condition, and gets pruned as properly as possible for the difficult circumstances.P80808+This brief article from a few days ago discusses a few more details about easements. https://tonytomeo.com/2018/08/02/easements-really-should-be-easier/

19 thoughts on “Horridculture – Bullwinkle

  1. Hi there Tony, the Bullwinkle cut, whilst disturbing, enlightened compared with the radical amputation which is how trees in such situations used to be treated in Australian suburbia. The lesser of two evils, is to be preferred. Jane

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    1. In Los Angeles, and probably other urban areas of Southern California, palms that encroach into utility easements get topped only, so that the dead trunk remain for the property owner to contend with. There is no other practical choice for those who perform the vegetation management.

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  2. Ugh. I should have read my comment before placing send. I would never prescribe a tree that would ever be in a position to be bullwinkled someday. Better wording.

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    1. The Council should know better as well, although I know that they sometimes plant trees before they know how they will perform in a particular region. Ginkgo trees were popular trees here before anyone knew that they would eventually mature and make messy and stinky fruit. Modern cultivars are all male now.

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  3. When we lived in Christchurch, a common example of mature tree height ignorance was magnolias. I often saw ‘dwarf’ magnolias planted fairly closely together along the street edges of properties, sometimes in tiny yards. We had some along the boundary of our own front yard! Planted before we got there of course. Landscapers don’t seem to realise that even dwarf magnolias can get very big. They may look good when young but they’ll turn into rows of expensive maintenance.

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      1. Yes, although there is a lot of variation in mature size of dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees. Some won’t even reach 2m high. The ‘dwarf’ magnolias, which are really semi-dwarf, which really just means they’re smaller than most of the others, have a mature size of 5-8m and a good width too. For some reason they are marketed as being good for small spaces. I think someone took the idea that one of them can work as a nice specimen tree in a small garden and translated it into the idea that closely-spaced rows of them are awesome for tight spaces! Oops.

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      2. Crape myrtles are sold as shade trees here because they ‘can’ get to be mid sized trees in the right climate. However, they do not do it here. We call such tiny trees ‘micro-trees’. They never really aount to much. It is th opposite problem as your magnolias.

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