Some trees are nicer than others. There are trees that evoke certain childhood memories, like Christmas trees, and trees that just creep us all out: think a willow tree in the dark. Those tendrils are scary. For those of us in San Diego there’s been a bit of an upset over eucalyptus trees.
Get Out Of My Yard
“Deport the eucalyptus back to Australia!”
That’s Johnny Sevier, a certified arborist, on the tree he loves to hate but that many San Diegans revere, the ubiquitous eucalyptus.
Long an arboreal staple in San Diego and environs, these tall, gangly imports make headlines now and then when branches give way at inopportune times, maiming or even killing. And Sevier says that local bureaucrats, fellow arborists, and euc-enthusiasts have blood on their hands.
On March 9 of this year, the eucalyptus struck again, this time in Scripps Ranch, which is, along with Rancho Santa Fe, perhaps the epicenter of eucalyptus worship in San Diego County. At Miramar Ranch Elementary, school had just adjourned, and Lana O’Shea, a kindergarten teacher, was leading her saplings out to meet their parents. A eucalyptus limb, apparently weakened by prior rain and wind, broke off and plummeted, leaving O’Shea with injuries requiring a six-day stay at the hospital. According to some reports, O’Shea took the proverbial bullet (or literal branch) for her charges, pushing them away right before impact. In any event, the children were unharmed.
Sevier, a voluble, colorful character — some would say feisty or even irascible — has a four-step plan to prevent the next airborne eucalyptus assault in San Diego. “Wake up, San Diego,” he proclaims, “there’s a simple solution. First, admit that planting eucalyptus in San Diego was a mistake with unintended consequences.” Next, he says, “Chainsaw, stump grinder, and [plant] different species.”
Unintended consequences? To address that notion, one must venture back to the hoary days of nascent San Diego, when the eucalyptus was touted as the perfect Southern Hemisphere import. Folks lauded its rapid growth and pleasing aesthetics. Its use for railroad ties was derailed by the wood’s tendency to warp when spiked. As for eucalyptus fishing poles fashioned for the local tuna fleet, that remains an apocryphal tale. Notwithstanding the tree’s dubious utility, it was here by the Civil War years.
Grind Them Up
So what can you do when you have an unwanted tree in your yard? There are several options that you can consider such as cutting the offender down, trimming it to nothingness or even attempting to starve it. Whichever one you choose is going to leave you with a reminder: the stump. There are some fun things you can do with a stump. Usually, however, it’s just an eyesore. A big blob of leftover tree flesh. Maybe it’s taking up space in your yard. Maybe it’s right in the way of where your kids play. Or maybe you’re just sick of looking at it and reminding yourself that there used to be a tree there.
Worry not! You can have your stump removed! You can clear out that ugly reminder of what it was. Just think of the possibilities you can have with that extra space in your front or back yard! Also, by leaving it to the professionals, you don’t even have to get dirty. Sounds like a win-win situation to us!