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Landscape » Our Sustainable Home
Browsing Topic: Landscape

Tree & stump removal

March 27th, 2008

There were some tree removal guys on our street the other day and so we asked them for a quote to remove our trees for us. They seemed like nice, honest folks and that certainly came through in their sales pitch:

“It’s still winter and we’re desperate for any work you can give us. We’ll cut you a deal that’s a fraction of what you’d pay otherwise. If you wait until spring we’ll be busy, but we can do it now for a song.”

Indeed their price seemed to be about half of what I had been quoted earlier. Fortunately we already have our removal permit in place from last year so they’ll be coming tomorrow to take them down.

They also gave me a great tip regarding the stumps: If you build a flower box over them you’ll remember to water the soil in the flower box regularly. A wet-soil-covered stump will rot to pulp all on its own in about 3 months. (If one leaves the fresh-cut stump in the sun to dry out, it will stick around for decades.)

Posted by Colin
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Paperwork received at Urban Forestry Service

May 18th, 2007

Yesterday I called the Urban Forestry Service to check on the status of the application to remove the unhealthy tree next door.

The inspector at our local UFS office called today to let me know that the paperwork was only marked as received by their central office today (though it was dropped off on Monday). It will now be forwarded (via letter mail) to the local office and someone will come by next week to inspect the tree.

Once again I should mention that you should count on ‘the system’ to take longer than you might expect to do everything it needs to do. I don’t mean this as a dig towards the government agencies that regulate all the different aspects of a construction project, only that you should remember to allot sufficient time for each group to complete the due diligence required by their mandate.

In speaking with the inspector today we also found out that even though our neighbours authorized the arborist to manage this process with the city, they will still need to sign the final paperwork authorizing the removal of their tree. We had hoped our build would be of as little inconvenience to them as possible, but it looks like we’ll have to impose a little more paperwork on them yet.

(Sorry guys!)

There is also some good news as far as the timeline goes though: In the case where one is applying to remove a tree that the city considers to be unhealthy, there is no 2-week public appeal process. It makes sense now that I think about it: there’s no reason to preserve a tree that is dying and therefore could fall, no matter who would like to see it stay.

Posted by Colin
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Replacement tree options

May 8th, 2007

The city of Coeur D’Alene in Idaho has a great reference guide to trees suitable for urban settings. I’m not sure if all these trees would be approved by Toronto’s Urban Forestry Service (though it would be nice if they offered a similar guide for Toronto).

One of the ‘front runner’ candidates we are looking at planting (as suggested by my Mom) is a Crimean Linden tree. They apparently grow very quickly (great for carbon sequestration), grow to a size of 60′ high and 30′ wide, and (are rumoured to) naturally repel mosquitoes. Sounds like a great backyard tree, to me!

Posted by Colin
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Tree issues almost resolved

April 26th, 2007

When we initially hired an Arborist to come look at our neighbour’s trees, it was with the intent of developing a protection plan for them. Unfortunately, his inspection found that primary tree that we needed to protect is probably not worth saving. It has developed a split down the middle that will eventually lead to the tree falling down in a future wind storm. As such he thought we should investigate removing the tree now, and felt the city inspector would certainly agree with his assessment if we decided to go that way.

We discussed the matter with our neighbours and offered to either protect the tree (which involves changes to the architectural plans and a specialized building structure) or remove the tree. Since there would be costs involved to preserve the tree, we also offered to cover the costs remove it; whichever they wished. They had a near-miss with a tree that fell just a few feet away from their house a few years earlier, and so agreed that the safer course of action would be to remove the tree now. (The split in the tree aims one of the two major branches towards the house.)
Even in a case where the city will clearly agree with the Arborist’s assessment, there is still quite a bit of paperwork to be done. We must apply to the city for its removal, and since it is not our tree, our neighbour had to sign a city form authorizing our Arborist to act on their behalf.

The costs to us for removing the tree include a fee of $100 per tree (just one in this case) to make the application to the city, and $550-750 (est.) to have a company come in and professionally/safely remove the tree.

Posted by Colin
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Trees near the construction site

March 15th, 2007

Growing out of the front of the foundation of our house, at an angle of 45 degrees, is a tree. We always knew that tree could not be saved when the new house was built, but we have plans to plant a new tree further to the front of the property when the house is completed.

But it turns out, you can’t just take down a tree if it’s in the way. Any tree with a diameter of more than 30cm (measured 1.4m from the ground) is protected by Toronto’s Urban Forestry Service whether it is on public or private property. In our case this tree is just shy of 30cm, but if it weren’t we would have to apply to the city for a review (at a cost of $200) to decide whether it can be removed.

As with property demolition, there is a 14-day public notice period where the public can object to the removal of a tree. In some cases that can be followed up by a 90-day review period while city council decides the matter (but my impression is this doesn’t apply to most situations).

There is a second tree that is next door to us and it’s close enough that the city has asked for a formal Arborist’s report to determine what impact construction will have on it. There are many things that may need to be done, including erecting a fence around it for protection (though in our case there is a fence between the properties and the canopy is so high as to be pointless).

The city of Toronto requires that the Arborist who prepares the report be certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) or registered with the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).

We’re hoping to have the report back from the Arborist as soon as possible so it does not interfere with our permit application. If you have any trees within 6m of your construction site, you would be well advised to find out if they will be at risk and start planning around them early.

Posted by Colin
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Collecting and blocking light

November 7th, 2006

Today I was out measuring the position of existing electrical, water and gas services, in addition to gathering more information about the trees that will shadow our house.Positioning your house and windows to best take advantage of the sun (to capture it in the winter and avoid it in the summer) is one of the easiest ways to improve the efficiency of a home.

All buildings and most trees were already on our survey, but it didn’t include unusual details such as how tall and wide the trees are. This can have a big impact on the amount of light we’ll need to avoid in the summer and somewhat reduce the sun we’ll receive in the winter.

I don’t have any tools to precisely measure tall heights so for the time being I just put a standing tape measure, extended 6′, at the base of various trees and took a photograph. I then counted the number of pixels in the photo that made up the 6′ tape measure, and compared it to the object in question.

The obvious problem with this method is that the tops of the trees are farther away than the bottoms of the trees, so the taller the tree is, the more inaccurate my measurement will be. But it should give us a good estimate.

The attached images illustrate why deciduous trees are useful to have around your property. With leaves, the trees block the sun in the summer. Without, they allow us to gather more heat through our windows.

Elevation of tree across the street Tree coverage to the south-west Elevation of power hookups

Posted by Colin
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