Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Trees go Rogue

Are trees like unruly teenagers, disobedient and rebellious? Or are they just following their instincts and their natural life cycle, when things go wrong? It could be a little bit of both and (as with the teenagers) most often the "parents" or tree owners have more than a little to do with their disruptive behavior.

People will plant the wrong trees in the wrong places. They don't mean to, they just didn't go to the right parenting classes. Monterey pines and many other species just do not belong in small back yards in Marin County.  They are often shallow rooted, drop debris, including large branches and are subject to pests and diseases that can ravage them and their neighbor trees. Eucalypts are prone to whole branch failure. You do not want to be under one of them when the wind is blowing.

We have handled several such cases, two most recently, where diseased and in one case, practically dead as a doornail, trees leaned precariously over the homes of nearby neighbors.

Neighbors feared going into their own yards, and were advised by experienced tree risk assessors that the tree could easily pierce the roof. Imagine cowering in corners of your own home, having had to abandon living, dining or sleeping quarters!

Neighborly pleas, arborists' reports and even letters from attorneys fell on deaf ears. In both cases, emergency court orders were the only remedy.  Luckily the orders were in place before the trees could do their damage.
Don't get me wrong; we try to get the neighbors to try to to resolve these issues between themselves first. We even offer mediation with an expert who can provide sound scientific information on the health of the trees.  Can they be saved? Sometimes. Can sneaky roots that have invaded pipes and sewer lines be turned back? Often. And here's the interesting thing: except for those cases where swift action by a stern judge is called for to avert an impending tragedy, most court cases involving trees, neighbors and property end up being sent to mediation, the courts having more pressing matters to attend to, such as violent crime or theft of valuables.

So why not mediate your tree issues first, before they become costly court cases? Save time, money and maybe even your relationship with the neighbors. Often taking this route makes everyone feel more kindly toward one another, and neighbors have been known to pitch in to help pay for trimming or removal of the offending tree, maybe even replacing it with a more "friendly" species.

1 comment:

Nancy Carroll said...

HI, I put a message on an earlier post about tree roots, we have a serious problem with neighbors trees & tree like shrubs and need help finding a solution--he has refused to communicate with us since 2006, when a large branch fell and sent a threatening letter to us advising us that if we cut it or the roots we would be subject to up to 6 month in jail and huge fines, other branches have fallen since and the berries are poisonous to our dog.. we have offered to pay to remove them in the past, now much of our back yard won't sustain any of our plants as his roots have overtaken our above ground planters even...
could you give me direction please!!