Removing a Root Problem

Yesterday, I cut down an apple tree that had graced our back yard for longer than we've owned the property. When when my wife and I first laid eyes on the yard in 1990, there were two apple trees back by the rear garage, each around twelve feet tall and with trunks, at their bases, around five inches in diameter. But they grew, and I cut one down a few years later, now too close to the building as well as crowding its mate.

For the new build, as well as converting my existing studio into an ADU, we intend to tap into the sewer line that runs in a straight shot from the house directly west, beneath the other apple tree, another tree closer to the house, and the existing 2 car garage.

The first thing we had to find out was the condition of the line. We were positive it was clay tile and I was further positive that its condition would be compromised, as, like so many homeowners in the downtown area with homes built in the late 1800's - early 1900's, two of our sewer lines are often root bound and we have the lines rooted yearly to keep the ever-present, thirsty tree roots that worm between tile seams from eventually blocking all water flow, causing backups. I imagined there'd be areas where the tile was entirely missing. Just a circular earthen hole a dozen or so feet down.

So we had the line scoped and located about a week ago, and as I watched the line go out and viewed the live video on the monitor, including the number of feet the scope had pushed into the line, sure enough, there were roots only in the two spots in the yard where it passed beneath the two trees.

I was encouraged to find no cracked clay tiles anywhere. We dodged a bullet there. However, the trees did not - they have to go. One is in bad shape anyway, though its size and location make removing it beyond my capabilities.

I took the other - the apple tree, now around 25' tall and with a 16" dia. trunk - down yesterday, and sent a series of group texts to my wife and kids to commemorate the sad, though necessary, occasion. The older ones were perhaps the most affected, remembering how they used to climb it when they were younger. I tried to keep things light.

But if I allow myself to think about it, I recall times when I'd look out at the tree in the spring, during a late snowstorm, when the grass was greening up and those fat snowflakes were collecting on the tree's leaves. Times one of the kids would be hiding somewhere in the tree's canopy, all but totally hidden though only feet away... or the time that family of raccoons allowed me, one night, to pluck an apple and hand it to one of them, sitting on a low branch... sad to lose it. All but its roots.

I'll have to ask Nan if her "verclempt" text referred to the loss of the tree or the potential loss of her husband - we know of someone who died cutting a tree down...

But, here I am, with all my limbs intact at least, and $400 richer, in a way, kinda sorta. With my new trailer hitched to the Ranger, it took one $20 load to Rocky Top Resources. Probably would've taken at least four trips without the trailer. Not sure what an arborist would've charged to cut down and remove the tree, but again guesstimate around $400 of savings, give or take, by it, not including my time (or whining, overly, about my sore muscles).

Speaking of my time, another reason I intend to do as much of the studio build as I can myself is that my place of employment, my studio (pictured below), will be out of commission anyway, being converted to an ADU. If a particularly juicy project comes down the pike in the interim, I may have to set my ambition to build the studio d.i.y. aside and rent a workspace, but barring that, I may as well contribute my time and energies to the project and perhaps learn a thing or two.

Today, I intend to gather some more reclaimed wood as well as sign the papers for the HELOCs to fund the project.

Just a few remaining over-ripe apples and a couple trashcan's worth of sticks to rake up. Adios, apple tree! Most of you will be missed!


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