06 April 2011

Goodbye, Magnolia Tree

When we bought our house there was a large Magnolia tree behind our garage.  I thought the area had potential, but there wasn't much we could do with it at the time.  I raked leaves for a while, but It was pointless as they never kept falling.  There was also a lot of running bamboo, and enough leaf litter that I was afraid to walk back there, not knowing what was underneath.

Eventually I decided to try to kill the bamboo by cutting it down and smothering it with old carpet.  While dealing with the bamboo, I had to wade through the leaves and I was surprised what I found.  It's not very interesting in hindsight, but,  it was the first time I had walked back there.  The area was a lot larger than I thought and there were a lot of nandina plants as well.  I tried to dig them up, but the ground was so full of roots, from the Magnolia and the bamboo, that I could never get a shovel in the ground.

Just after Thanksgiving, a few large limbs fell into our neighbor's yard.  They didn't hit anything, but it was an ominous sign - is this tree dying?  Will more limbs fall?  This ended up being a long, drawn out process.  We called the city to find out about permits etc. and they sent an arborist to look at the tree and the he gave his approval to take it down.  I got a permit for the work - the only thing left was to find a tree company.

Our neighbors recommended a company that did work for their church and had given them a good price.  We had no idea how much this would cost, but we wanted it to cost less than $1000.  Someone from that company came and gave us an estimate of $1550.  It was definitely more than we wanted to pay.  We tried to get recommendations from other neighbors, but no one had any - we had no other plan than to pick 5 names from the yellow pages and get estimates from them.  The next people we called quoted us $850 without grinding the stump, because his stump grinder was broken.  Another company gave us an estimate of $1850 - it was not looking good.  We started thinking we couldn't afford to have the tree removed, so we got quotes to trim it as well.  Most of these were between $600 and $800.  Finally we got a quote that sounded too good to be true - a guy came and quoted us $675 for everything.  Once we got a price we liked, Robin asked me if still wanted to cut it down or just trim it - I said, "for $675, I wanted it gone!"  She thought the price seemed too low and called to get more information from him, including references.  When she called them, they said they felt the same way about his price, but he did a good job.

He came with a couple of guys on Monday afternoon and, in about three hours, they had removed the whole tree, with the exception of several trunk pieces and the stump.  He came back Wednesday afternoon and loaded the large pieces onto his trailer and used the stump grinder to finish the job.

Now that the tree is gone, I need to get back there and clean up a few limbs, leaves and a little bamboo - and level out the wood chips left over from the stump grinding.  Once that is done, it's probably going to be the site for our new chicken coop.

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