There are plenty of ways to solve the tree problem

By Aaron James

For the entire time I was growing up on Felix, there were three huge trees in the grass median strip between the curb and sidewalk down the street. One fell during Hurricane Elvis and split the house on its lot right down the middle (A). Another was purposely removed a couple of weeks ago (prompting this article [B]), and the third is presently in dire need of attention (C). We’ve all seen them: roots bulging out over the curb, adjacent sidewalk all heaved and busted, and those massive, gorgeous limbs overhanging the street.[singlepic id=148 w=400 h=300 mode=web20 float=right]

I should stop here and confess that I am a treeeeee huuuuugger! And I’m not talking about those quasi-hugs you give an ex-coworker when you run into them at the mall; I’m talking about your favorite grandmother after you burst through her front door Thanksgiving morning kind of hugs. It is our trees after all, particularly our mature hardwoods, that add the finishing touches to the overall character of Midtown. (I’ve heard they help regulate some vital atmospheric element too, but I don’t go for all that scientific mumbo-jumbo.) But all living things have a finite life cycle, and mature trees can—and often do—pose a significant threat to both people and property once that cycle comes to an end.

Our continued encroachment on the natural world compels us to consider how the twain shall meet. We cannot, for instance, automatically assume that a giant White Oak will mature the same in an urban setting as it would in undisturbed woodlands. Hence the concept of “Urban Forestry.” To this end, a number of arbor-related professionals formed the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) in 1991. Their mission (according to their website) is “to serve as an advisory body to promote healthy and sustainable urban and community forests in Tennessee by providing leadership and assistance through education, planning, advocacy, and collaboration.”

Member Scott Banbury of Midtown Logging and Lumber was kind enough to recently share loads of invaluable and relevant information. For instance, did you know that there are currently no laws in the state of Tennessee regulating tree cutters? This means that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can show up at your door, underbid a more qualified professional, fell a tree right across your front porch, and skedaddle, leaving you with little or no legal recourse! Scott recommends that at the very least, always ask for proof of insurance and bonding. Also, if a company or individual is paid to remove or trim a tree, then that party is responsible for removing the debris. Do not let yourself get stuck with this one, because if MLGW discovers that you paid for the work, then you will be hit with an extra charge to remove the debris.

Arborists, on the other hand, are regulated by the state. An arborist is someone who will help care for your tree with selective trimming, deep-root feeding, and infestation prevention. In the long run, it is actually more cost effective to contract regular maintenance for a tree than to pay to have the tree removed once it is too far gone, or—god forbid—to pay a clean-up crew to remove it from your yard or living room.

Our trees are a major contributing factor to our overall quality of life. If you are lucky enough to have mature trees in your yard, I urge you to consider their well-being. If you’re renting, make sure your landlord does the same. If you have not had your trees professionally trimmed in the last couple of years, please call an arborist today. If you have a tree that needs to be removed, consider consulting an arborist to see if it can be saved, and, if not, take every precaution to only hire a reputable cutter. And, by all means, be sure and verify that your homeowner’s insurance covers tree damage—‘act of god’ or otherwise. If they’re smart, they’ll even help cover the cost of care or removal.

For more information on the TUFC, visit For more information on Midtown Logging and Lumber, visit


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