My neighbor left a note on my car and asked me to call him regarding a tree on my property. It turns out he wants me to cut it down. When I asked him why, his response was similar to the reason he asked me to cut down a tree about three years ago: it is messy, and the leaves will eventually fill up his gutters and litter his yard.
Suddenly memories of my days as president of my college Greenpeace chapter came careening back. Yes, I am that old.
The young Doug Fir that I have to cut down.
Fighting the urge to run downtown and chain myself to the young Douglas Fir in question, I sadly agreed to cut it down. Not because it will litter his yard with those ever-so-annoying fir needles, but because the tree is very close to the property line, and will eventually grow into his yard.
The last tree he wanted me to cut down is an extremely healthy oak which is probably well into its second century of life. The tree does rain leaves down into his yard relentlessly, but it hangs over the area of his yard that features nothing more than a dilapidated shed and a pile of junk. What I’m saying is: the oak leaves actually make this part of his yard look better.
And I’m not cutting it down.
Here is a list of reasons why some people should worry more about trees, and less about their gutters:
Above all, trees are good for our psyches. Being among trees lowers our blood pressure and gives us a feeling of peaceful tranquility.
Hospital patients recover more quickly from surgery when their hospital room has a view of trees.
Trees are tremendously beneficial for the environment. They improve air quality by filtering the air we breathe and removing dust and other particulates. Rain then washes these pollutants to the ground.
The leaves of trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates. During this process leaves also absorb other pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. The end result of this process is the production of oxygen.
Trees can not only cool temperatures on a hot day, but also can be insulating on a cold day. Their existence helps humans cut energy costs and conserve water.
Trees harbor wildlife, thereby playing a very important role in the local ecosystem.
Trees can reduce and prevent soil erosion.
Trees can act as a sound barrier.
Trees can make a living fence, shielding certain neighbors from other neighbors’ ugly yards.
Trees create beauty; beauty raises property values. BUT, since leaves get in your gutter, let’s cut them all down!
I wrote a story a few years ago call “Does Prada Make Flip-Flops? Or, Low Maintenance Does Not Mean No Maintenance.” In that post, there are some photos of yards and gardens that I think my neighbor might prefer over those pesky trees.
Ah Junipers...They cover a multitude of sins. There is probably and old Volkswagon parked under there or maybe a body.