P90731We arborists happen to like trees. That is why we are arborists. Most of us also understand that trees are not appropriate for every situation, or where they are not appreciated. There is no point in planting a tree where it will just get cut down by someone else who does not like it. We want trees to be happy. We also want those who live with them to be happy with their trees.
Trees are ‘generally’ desirable over parking lots and roadways. They provide shade that cools the pavement during hot summer weather. Arborists naturally prefer trees that get big enough to make substantial shadows. It is also important for such trees to get high enough to be pruned for minimal clearance above the biggest vehicles to use the roadways or paring lots. They should also be pruned above streetlamps and signs.
Clearance of signs is a serious problem in strip malls and commercial districts, where trees are regularly disfigured by those wanting to keep them below their signs rather than above. It takes a few years to prune trees upward, and many merchants do not want to wait that long. There is also a concern that substantial trees will make substantial messes, and damage concrete curbs, gutters and sidewalks.
Microtrees are not always the answer! They are a cop out! For many situations, it is better to contend with the problems of larger trees than to pretend that microtrees are somehow better.
These dinky crape myrtles will never be proportionate to the roadway to the left or the parking lot to the right. They will not get high enough to be pruned for adequate clearance, so will instead be mutilated for confinement. They will likely get shorn into nondescript globs that rarely get a chance to bloom, and that pedestrians will need to duck under.
Crape myrtle is the most common of the microtrees that so commonly end up where other trees would be better. That is why so many arborists sometimes misspell ‘crape myrtle’ without the first ‘e’.

14 thoughts on “Horridculture – Microtrees

  1. Poor things. I built a garden at the Melbourne Garden Show a few years back about how humans want nature to behave, while nature wants to be alive, free and wild – I’ll do a blog on it someday.

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    1. It amazes me that we live where we do, among the tallest trees in the World, where people come on from all over the World to see the forests,, but some have no problem replacing nature with such cheap and trashy ‘landscaping’. I wold have no problem with a crape myrtle in a confined spot in my own garden, where I could appreciate the foliar color in autumn, and the summer bloom, but this sort of application is just weird.


    1. It is degrading, for a tree that really wants to be appreciated for its bloom and foliar color in autumn. It does not belong out here where a bigger shadier tree should be. Traffic will speed by and barely notice it.

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    1. When I was working for a so-called ‘landscape’ company, it was as if we knew only three trees; London plane, Japanese maple and crape myrtle. None of them were used properly. The poor Japanese maples were installed just to impress clients, but were then shorn into nondescript globs, deprived of their natural form. London planes were common just because our so-called ‘gardeners’ could not kill them.

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    1. That is a good way of describing it. They will likely do just fine anyway, and bloom and turn color in autumn. Yet, the really do look like they want to be somewhere else.


    1. Crape myrtle is one of the few trees that is very reliable for foliar color in autumn here where winters are so mild. They really are nice in compact urban back yards, where they fit nicely under utility cables. They were easier to appreciate years go, before they became so common.


    1. I actually sort of like ‘those trees’ in the right situation. Besides the flashy bloom, they get excellent foliar color in autumn. I just find that I resent so many that are in bad situations. The worst of the brutalized street trees that I work iwth are in Los Angeles, where there are just too many trees in such a huge city to enforce preservation ordinances.


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