Bargains that Lose Value with Time
My childhood home was planted extensively with Water Maples. They were a mess, constantly dropping broken limbs. In the fall their leaves turned a non-memorable brown before they fell. I did have more than one memorable experience related to them, though. I watched them toppled or snapped by storms. Seeing sixty-foot trees collapse within just a few feet from my window and come crashing down on other trees is a sight which stays with you for life. What I saw growing up taught me to never, ever plant a trash tree.
A trash tree is typically sold by mail-order as a quick-and-dirty solution for a landscape. The catalog depictions of trash trees boast they grow anywhere, are disease resistant, are fast growing, are very adaptable, and provide dense shade in just a few years. It sounds great, doesn’t it? The descriptive phrases are true, and I have learned from experience to be suspicious about any tree described in those terms. There are other characteristics omitted from the catalogs—weak wooded, messy, invasive, dangerous in storms, and ugly most of the year. Thrash trees are very easy to propagate cheaply, so they can be sold at bargain prices to homeowners that think a shade tree is a shade tree is a shade tree. Trees sold in the back of a magazine about raising chickens or racing cars are usually bargains which lose value with time.
Sixty-foot shade trees for only a dollar-fifty entice homeowners to purchase Paulownia, Willow, Lombardy Poplar, Popcorn tree, Bradford Pear, Mimosa, Silver Maple, Water Maple, Black Locust, Mulberry, and Honeylocust trees. Blinded by the cheap deal, they purchase trash trees decade after decade. Trash trees are problems waiting to grow larger each year. The property owner in the photo above was lucky. The trash tree in the front yard, placed front-and-center in the middle of the lawn, has begun to self-destruct before becoming huge and unmanageable. The ten-or-so Water Maples planted at my childhood home probably cost less than ten dollars, but they did thousands of dollars in damage over the long term.