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should I cut down trees? if so what to put in their place?

April 23, 2019
I have a guy coming tomorrow to cut down these trees. As you can see one is definitely dead and the others aren’t looking so hot. He suggested I take them down and the landscaper suggested it as well. What should I put in their place?? My husband likes that they give us privacy and I’m a little nervous how it will look with them all cut down. Second pic is a view from my driveway. Tan house with front porch is mine to the left.

Comments (20)

  • Sammie J

    How many of the trees pictured will be coming down? What is the distance from your porch to the road, and how wide is the property? That will make a difference in the type of tree(s) you can plant or how you decide to landscape the property.

    KateF thanked Sammie J
  • houssaon

    Unfortunately the trees were planted too close to one another. From the left, I see what looks like a mature spruce evergreen and a very large arborvitae right next to it. You can't let the evergreen there on its own. So I would not disagree that they should come down.

    Wait awhile before you plant, because even if you have the stumps ground it will take a bit for the roots to decay.

    In the mean time, find out what native trees do well in your area. In addition, one or two ornamental trees closer to your house will give you a sense of privacy. Locate them so you can see them out the window.

    KateF thanked houssaon
  • KateF
    Thank you both!! There’s 5 of them including the skinny one. Here’s a pic from my porch. From the porch mulch bed to that one there’s about 20 feet. Width is about 40 feet from the next house to the driveway.
  • PRO

    You do not want to see the street or the street seeing you?

  • Angel 18432

    Somewhere behind those trees is a lovely home (from the little I see) and you should be able to see it from the road.

  • KateF

    yes thanks yardvaark and angel, I do love my home and I feel like these strange trees need to go. great advice by houssan to wait until the roots diminish and look around then decide what we’d like to do

  • PRO

    "... I do love my home and I feel like these strange trees need to go." Yet, the "husband likes that they [the trees] give us privacy."

    It sounds that there may be an internal conflict that must first be resolved before commencing with landscape design, as a given portion of a yard cannot be opposite states of being at the exact same time.

    We have only one picture in which parts of houses are seen though not well, and it does not look like a neighborhood where one would feel shame or embarrassment about their living quarters. I notice that you have an open porch into which people can see. If your husband was to deal with the porch the way he is dealing with the yard, he would insist that tall shrubs be planted immediately in front of it so that those of us on the outside could not see into the porch area. Why is he not doing this? I suggest that his desire for privacy may not actually be for total privacy. As it turns out there is partial privacy at the porch area gained without blocking off its "window' openings: first, it is set back from the road making it hard for anyone to recognize small details; secondly, it is roofed, producing shade and darkness, further making it difficult to see anything in the porch from a distance; thirdly, it is screened solid at its base with a stone wall, making it impossible to see objects that might be placed within 3' of the porch floor.

    I suggest that what is currently thought of as the hub's desire for privacy at the street may in fact be equivalent to that described for the porch. He may be trying to define the property in such a way as to signal to the outside world that it is his private property and that people would need an invitation before they enter it. If that's the case, planting large shrubs to screen the house is the wrong way to send the message. A better way would would be similar to how the porch was made semi-private, beginning with a "roof." What are commonly called "street" trees make a similar canopy along the front property line, producing shade and a sense of privacy. These are limbed up so that a view to the house is maintained but they suggest a property boundary. If one intends to control physical access along the front property line, a wall, fence, hedge or wide band of groundcover can be added. Each allows some degree of a view beyond, correlating with some degree of access restriction, according to the desires of the owner.

    If I'm wrong and the hub is looking for an outdoor place to towel off after a bath, then you will need to go ahead with large shrubs along the front property line ... and probably along the side lines, too, depending on the neighbors' tastes.

    KateF thanked Yardvaark
  • PRO
    Van Zelst Inc

    A balance of privacy and visibility makes sense. Once the trees are removed, you'll have a better idea of your need for privacy from the street. We suggest that you consider planting to take advantage of perspective. Consider views from the porch and from inside the house as well.

    Take a look at our blog on landscape privacy for tips on defining your privacy goals: https://www.vanzelst.com/blog/living-fences-make-good-neighbors/.

    KateF thanked Van Zelst Inc
  • PRO
    Barbara Griffith Designs

    I would first try having them trimmed up higher from the bottom, but only a little at a time...you can't glue it back on. Have them trim some, then look at the house from all angles and sides, then have them trim more until you are satisfied. Never leave this to landscapers to figure out. It is your property.

    KateF thanked Barbara Griffith Designs
  • girl_wonder

    I'd be cautious about removing anything when you aren't sure. These are mature trees 10-20 years old. Why not wait until you have a clear plan? Yes, remove the one that's dead. Then take the time to decide an overall plan for the front yard. I can't really tell, but it looks like a row of trees across the front of the yard, and then nothing on the side. That seems odd. If it were me, I'd have a landscape architect over for a consultation and to discuss your options. They may recommend removing some but not all of the trees, for example.

    KateF thanked girl_wonder
  • KateF

    Thanks yardvaark. We dont want large trees right in front of the porch since we don’t want to hide the stone. There will be no towel drying going on out there either, lol. Yes girl wonder, I agree that we need a landscape designer in to discuss options. We actually had one already and spent so much and he had suggested at the time getting rid of those and just doing something along the side but we left them because we needed to stick to our budget but now that they are dying and looking Worse I think it’s time.

  • tatts

    There is absolutely no reason to wait until the old roots rot in order to plant. Roots grow among each other all the time--as they are already doing.

    KateF thanked tatts
  • PRO

    "We dont want large trees right in front of the porch since we don’t want to hide the stone." I wasn't remotely suggesting that. I was drawing a comparison between hiding house from street and hiding porch ... trying to get to the bottom of WHY the house is being screened from the street. I did not detect an answer.

  • KateF

    yardvaark, we did not plant those trees, the previous owner did, so I have no idea.

  • laceyvail 6A, WV

    Quite frankly I'm not interested in seeing the road or having the road see me and I would always want to have as much privacy as possible; shrubbery/trees easily give me that. I would consider replacing the trees with large shrubs--I'm talking 12-15 ft tall and wide. Then you would have privacy down to the ground (you'd no longer see the road) and flowers as well. You don't give your zone, so it's impossible to make useful suggestions, but in my zone (6A) I've used Viburnum pragense (evergreen), Viburnum sargentii 'Shenandoah' (deciduous), and another evergreen Viburnum whose name I can't remember. Abelia mosanensis and Magnolia stellata would also work--fragrance with both.

  • ashyaslan
    Those trees certainly are planted close together!! Have they come down? Any new pics you could share? I'd be interested to know how busy the road is, and the location/zone info.

    There's no reason you have to have an unbroken vista up to the front door if you don't want it. IMO, an unbroken front lawn would be less inviting than a home with some lovely trees and shrubs, even if the greenery partially screens the house.

    It's really a shame that the original trees weren't spaced appropriately.
  • KateF

    Thank you both. I’m in zone 7a. They have come down.

  • houssaon

    What a nice neighborhood! Now you can take your time and think about how you want to frame the house with a few trees.

  • KateF

    Yes thanks houssaon. Will keep you posted:)

  • PRO

    Answering the question of what to put in place of the trees, I'd recommend sod in order to heal the scarred lawn. The area is too close to the drive and street for shrub obstructions and there are already street trees nearby. If you are trying to hide some of the property across the street, then place a dome shaped shrub about 15'-20' from the street and 10'-12' from the drive. (Placing it too close to street or drive will be a disadvantage in one way or another.) The acceptable shapes to prune it to are dome or tapered cylinder. (If you prune to a ball, you'll ultimately be creating a mushroom shape tree form where the stem would be short stilts.) It could have a square footprint if you prefer. I'm not saying that placing a shrub there is ideal regardless of other circumstances. It's ideal if it solves your problem. If you don't need it, stick with sod only.

    I would be limbing up the street trees a little for cleaner appearance and so it's not a bigger job later.

    Examples of dome shaped shrubs, circled in red, especially at the background. It could be evergreen but doesn't seem that it must be, which would open up the the options in shrub selection.

    KateF thanked Yardvaark

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