What’s a view without trees?

A while back I wrote about a Seattle-area neighbor dispute over a tree partially blocking their view.  Sadly, the tree lost out in this case, which was decided a few weeks ago.

Now a second tree vs. view dispute was reported this week.  You’ll have to read the story to see how many things are inaccurate/indefensible/infuriating about the “trimming” of this 90 foot western red cedar (a native species).  My personal favorite: “the tree violated neighborhood bylaws ensuring no house’s view would be blocked.”

I wonder how they got the tree to agree to the bylaws in the first place?

A western red cedar (Thuja plicata), maybe 60 feet tall.  People in my neighborhood like their big trees.

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

11 thoughts on “What’s a view without trees?”

  1. Did I understand this correctly – they didn’t remove the tree, they just cut it shorter? So now it will be like one of those awful ‘haircut’ trees, as I call them, that reside under powerlines and such? That’s terrible! They should have just taken it entirely out! I hope they chose some good ‘replacement’ trees and shrubs that will not be a problem later – ‘right plant, right place’ and all that.

  2. THEY TOPPED IT? That’s insane. In addition to everything Jan said, the neighbors will be after them to trim the new leaders every couple of years until the poor tree gives up the ghost.

  3. I couldn’t believe it when I read the article… Just put the poor thing out of its misery! If the ignorant and entitled insist on hacking it, just take the whole thing out and make the neighbors pay for a new, more “appropriate” tree. It just makes no sense–if you move in next to an airport or train station, you don’t get to force them to be quiet (well, not usually). Until we learn to value trees as a society, this will continue. One can only hope that something really ugly is built in the center of their view…

  4. Yes, it was topped, and yes it should just have been removed rather than butchered. I’m kind of surprised the arborist didn’t recommend that, since of course it will turn into a hydra tree. (Remember your Greek mythology if that one isn’t making sense.)

  5. So sad. I’m guessing the tree was there before the neighbors bought their house. You would think they would have noticed that their ‘view’ was blocked then. I personally think that looking at a beautiful tree is a wonderful view!

  6. I have a sneaky suspicion the tree was topped and left that way to create an ugly eye sore for the uphill neighbour to view. Just a guess. I would have completely taken it out. I found the history of this place fascina
    ting with all their bylaws rules and regulations, one of which at the beginning was completely racist. I wonder how that law got changed. It was a whites only neighbourhood according to those original bylaws. How pathetic. What is it with Rich Nieghbourhoods anyway ? Anyway, here is that interesting link —– http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/Innis%20Arden.htm

  7. I was in the position of having a tree blocking the view I’d paid an arm and a leg for. Some idiot had planted a Deodar Cedar in a view area. I tried to convince the neighbor to take the tree down entirely, but he wanted the screening it gave him from another neighbor.

  8. Isn’t it amazing the immaturity of decisions made about trees, especially by people who cannot understand their placement in the environment? I find it pretty appalling that the City reversed its decision (so typical). One of the reasons for these outstanding conifers is that the PNW can support there clean environmental impact. To replace it with a few twigs that will take a bit of time to mature is just ridiculous. Mature trees bring value to these swank areas, isn’t that understood yet? It just makes me so sad, is there to be nothing left of evergreens in urban environments?
    This is the PNW where time and time again it has been proven that topping is devastating to trees and the neighbor where the crime happens. Remember this is the home of WSU Extension – one of the best research and knowledge organizations of plant care and maintenance. Did anyone ask them? The PNW where there are a several excellent arborists and master gardeners and oh, foresters. Common on people, where is your compassion, intelligence and practically.

  9. If that’s topping a tree then cutting someone in two at the hips is decapitation. I would like to believe Kevin’s reason for ‘topping’ the tree is the most accurate – that the residence left it as an aesthetically pleasing reminder for the neighbours to be assaulted with, every time they look at their precious view. Devious.

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