“Is this a proper tree trimming?” they asked in a post on r/arborists. “Landlord hired someone — I was shocked by what they did.”
Their post contained before and after photos of the tree. The “before” shot showed a healthy tree with graceful, draping branches and plenty of green foliage shading a picturesque front lawn. Mature trees like this one help cool the surrounding area in summer; generate clean, fresh air; and add value to the properties they grow on.
The “after” photo was a horror show by comparison. Almost every smaller branch had been removed along with the majority of the leaves, leaving just a few scraggly twigs sticking out from the stumps of the branches. Limbs up to the thickness of a person’s wrist had been lopped off at the base, leaving behind only the dead-looking trunk and main branches.
The comments held a lively debate about whether this was the appropriate treatment for the tree.
“What they did was pollard the tree,” one commenter said — referring to a practice of sharply and repeatedly trimming back a tree’s branches so that only thin, new twigs can sprout. “Best case it sprouts out a bunch of new shoots that will be smaller and weaker than the large branches. So hopefully it at least does that and fills in a bit to help block the sun. Worse case the tree either dies or lives a very poor existence.”
Whether the tree would bounce back was likely a matter of what species it was, according to commenters.
“It’s a willow. It can take a heavy pollard. Anyone screaming murder doesn’t know what they are talking about,” one user said flatly.
“Is it a willow? I think it’s a pepper,” said another user, who was identified as a master arborist.
However, another commenter who also identified as an arborist was adamant that a pollard was not what happened. “Look at the clown cuts on this tree. This isn’t even a half-a**** attempt at pollarding. It’s a joke,” they said.
The master arborist assured everyone that it was common in Southern California and that the tree would be OK. “It’s not pretty right now, but it will bounce back STRONG,” they explained.
Whether the people hired to do this intended to pollard the tree or not, the OP did make it clear they were unhappy with their landlord’s choice. “He literally cut all branches; now I want to move,” they said in a comment.
This Redditor is just one of many renters whose landlords have made choices that cost tenants money and were unfriendly to the environment. There are some ways to address landlords and HOAs in similar situations, but it’s more difficult to enact change with landlords involved.
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