Yesterday I met with a wonderful friend to look over their potential garden space. Growing against a fence along the south side of the space stands a giant white-blooming lilac with a trunk nearly 10 inches in diameter. I stared in awe of this magnificent old lilac and urged my friend strongly not to rip it out completely.
When considering whether to remove or keep plants, shrubs or trees in a garden space there are many considerations, but some simple guidelines that can help.
Is it old?
In the case of the giant Lilac yesterday, the age of the plant did strongly factor into my opinion on keeping it. Hundred-year-old specimens, or even older examples of certain tress, can be historic markers on a property that enhance value over time. In the case of this lilac, it is perfectly in keeping with the Craftsman architecture and estimated build-date of the home in front. Planted close to the southern fence line in the back yard, the fence that stands behind it now is much newer. Throughout the life of the property, fence replacements and various tenants, this particular giant white lilac tree has remained and struggled on throughout the whole existence of habitation with the house as it stands today.
It is common to find very old fruit trees on residential properties in Eugene and our surrounding area. If the tree doesn’t endanger the house or out buildings and doesn’t impede the use of the property, it’s often worth the effort to properly trim and tend an old-growth tree in the hopes that it can be encouraged to flower and bear fruit once more. Lost varieties of historic apple trees have been found this way.
Is it invasive?
Invasive or otherwise non-native plants can sometimes take over a property and impede anything useful growing where desired. A plant identification app can be useful to determine what plants need to be dug out at the roots in your yard.
Minimizing known invasive species and greatly reducing the presence of unwanted plants and anything that is taking over or invading your deliberately cultivated areas can require steady attention and work, but will often yield a manageable result. Composting on-site is a good option.
Can it be moved somewhere else?
In the case of the giant white lilac tree on my friend’s property, moving it would be a herculean task. Instead of moving it or cutting it down completely, I suggested cutting it back to improve it’s health and appearance, and to encourage greater flowering next year while increasing the amount of light coming into the garden where we’ll be building planter boxes soon. Reducing the shade the lilac casts in the garden while improving it’s health can allow it to stay and attract pollinators to the vegetable gardens.
Moving anything that is tree-sized most often requires calling in a professional tree service that can relocate the specimen without harming or killing it, as well as without damaging the built property around it. For trees that appear to date with the property or are old in a way that is significant, this option should be considered. A relocated tree can be positioned for ideal shade or curb appeal, moved out of the way, and replanted where it can thrive and the family can enjoy it. Fruit bearing and flowering trees are particularly desirable to keep, if only in a new, better location.
Easier to relocate are plants and bushes that grow as volunteers thanks to birds or the wind bringing seeds into your yard. Use a plant identifier app if you can’t tell what it is, and decide from there whether to move the upstart into a flower or vegetable bed. In recent weeks I’ve been moving volunteer lupines that came into my vegetable beds by surprise, and now some are starting to bloom in their new location in the flower beds where they fit in as free additions!
Contact Eugene Garden Design for help identifying and relocating or removing plants, shrubs and invasive plants on your property. We can provide help in planning where to put the plants that need to be relocated, and can help removing unwanted volunteers.