Why Trees Sometimes Get Cut Down

A very common, native tree in these parts is Tilia Americana – commonly called Basswood. It’s related to the more commonly know Tilia cordata, Littleaf Linden – although both its habit and leaf is quite different.

The aftermath…

Basswood can get big – up to 100 feet or so, and I have them growing both in clumps (like white birch) or with a single large trunk. It has large leaves, that come out in mid-May, and which are not very cold hardy. That means that often the leaves start to emerge, then we get a late frost, and the new leaves get zapped, leaving an ugly mess at the tips of branches for a few weeks, until new leaves emerge and cover up the damage. Pollinators love these trees because they flower late in the season, when few other trees are in bloom.

Woodpeckers used to enjoy feasting on bugs living in and on this Basswood.

Until yesterday, I had a lovely old basswood growing on my road frontage. (Technically, of course, because it was growing on the County’s road allowance, it wasn’t ‘my’ tree…) It had two main trunks, one of which arched over the road, creating a lovely canopy, adding s bit of country charm to the scene. A few weeks ago County officials came along and painted a large green ‘X’ on the trunk; the tree’s time on this earth was drawing to an end. I’m not a tree expert, so I won’t judge the necessity for cutting down; County officials thought the rotting trunk posed too much a risk to passing vehicles, I guess.

Yesterday, two crews arrived, bringing bucket trucks, chain saws and a humongous tree shredding machine. I watched as the lovely tree came down, bit by bit, and was reduced to a few logs lying on the side of the road and a truck bed full or arborist wood chips.

Why the County wanted to cut down the tree – branches had been dying and falling, and the trunk itself was a bit rotten

Heavy sigh.

Silver lining? I now have a pile of wood chips to spread about my gardens, keeping the soil moist, reducing weeds, adding nutrients. The Garden Professors would be happy!

Basswood wood chips – perfect to use as a mulch. The large, irregular pieces allow both water and air penetration, yet help suppress weeds and keep soil moist and cool.

The view out my front window, as I sit here at my desk, has one less tree silhouette. But my garden will be happier. Thank you, Tilia americana.


  1. As an arborist, I am often questions about the necessity for removing particular trees. Here where the redwood was so extensively harvested a century ago, there are MANY trees that must be thinned out as the forest attempts to recover and regenerate.


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