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Time for a New Tree

We'd like to keep a silver maple in our front yard that we've nursed through ice storms and drought. But our driveway needs to be repaved. Will excavating for the drive damage the roots?

Q:

There's a silver maple in our front yard that we've nursed through ice storms and drought. We'd sure like to keep it because it's the only tree we have there. But our driveway needs to be repaved and we don't have any room to route it away from the tree. Will excavating for the drive damage the tree roots?
— Don Chamberlin, Rochester, N.Y.

A:

Roger Cook replies: You probably won't like what I have to say, but I'd remove the tree. From what I can see, it has clearly outgrown the site. What's worse, though, is the large hole where a branch was cut off, which indicates that rot probably extends all the way up the trunk. Silver maples have relatively weak wood anyway, which is why they are easily damaged by snow loads and wind.
As hard as it may be to accept, chopping down this maple is a great opportunity. Once it's gone, you could plant a new tree that won't grow as large and doesn't have a silver maple's aggressive root system. Your local garden center can suggest trees suitable to your area. I'd look for a small- to medium-size species so it won't overwhelm the yard. Something like a honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) could work. Or you could try a showier kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). Whatever tree you choose, place it well into the lawn area, away from the driveway and sidewalk.

 
 

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