More light please

Here we had a common situation. The neighbor’s large tree, a Eugenia, was overshadowing the area that my clients want to fill with plants. The goal was to cut it back, but make it look natural. The clients were clear that they did not want it to look butchered. That’s understandable.



Big, Black Acacia

The Acacia melanoxylon originates from Australia, but I have seen it naturalized all over California and all over Chile (both Mediterranean climates). It’s a large, evergreen tree with yellow, pea-sized, puff ball flowers. In San Francisco they bloom in late winter and make a huge mess.
I’ve heard some people say the acacia’s heavy pollen count drives them crazy. My allergist said that the acacia pollen is not a common allergen. I disagree. We were all sneezing our heads off the day we pruned this big guy
Some people like them, others don’t. I think they are a good choice for a large tree in San Francisco if they are well maintained. I’ve seen them trained as thick hedges; they make a good screen. The more you prune, however, the more they grow. So if you want to them to keep their shape, expect to have to get them pruned once a year.

Mikey (below), my friend and co-worker loves to use the wood for his furniture projects. He’s always on the lookout for an acacia takedown so that he can salvage the wood. The sap wood is a lush yellow and the heart wood is a dark brown with great venation. Gorgeous.

The goal with this tree was to open it up so that the client would have a view through the tree while maintaining sufficient screening. You can see in the picture below the fantastic view from the client’s upper deck through the tree from atop Bernal Heights.

We also wanted to tuck it back from two of the neighboring yards. The neighbors were all out that day, requesting the tree off of their property, or out of their views. Such a big tree in such a high density neighborhood means that everyone has a stake in what we do. Fortunately, in this case (but not in every case) these neighbors got along really well. Everyone in the end was pleased.


Young Melaluca

It was a beautiful day in Bernal Heights.  Our client, Karen, wanted us to prune this wonderful Melaluca.      
Our goal was to give it a nice natural shape, create natural layers, and to lighten it up a little without taking away the nice screening.  It took me about 2 hours to prune with Mikey helping on the ground.  


Balance Issues

Rock N Rose Landscapers asked me to fix their client’s crazy, off-balance tree.

The mayten tree (Maytenus boraria, from Chile) tolerates heavy pruning.   The more you prune, the more they grow.  
In San Francisco, I see this tree get drastically reduced in size just to bounce right back a year later.  So I know from experience that removing this much of the tree will not cause irreparable harm.  
WARNING!  Don’t be fooled.  Some tree trimmers head each limb until there is barely any green left.  Some people mistakenly think this is acceptable.  They may even call it pollarding.  It is neither.   It is topping.  It is not good for the long term health of the tree.  I’ll insert a picture of this style of pruning the next time I see it.  
In this case, the large unbalanced lateral branch had become the dominant leader.  Left unchecked it would eventually break.  It is best to take care of these structural issues early on, before they get so out of hand.