Is your opinion of landscaping trees biased by your thoughts on the lumber?


I was at a garden center a while back, and my wife and I were going to buy a tree.
"How about this spruce?" she asks. "Naw." After a lot of prodding, I say "I prefer a yew."
When I think of spruce, I think of cheap 2x4 lumber. When I see an arborvitae (Thuja), I think of durable, rot-resistant fencing material. When I see a yew, I think of elvish bows. When I see a box (Buxus), I think of hard durable tool handles. So everything other than spruce feels a bit more noble to me.
So it ends up that my opinion of the tree is biased by the wood. Not that I would ever cut them up and use the lumber.
We ended up with a yew. In hindsight, I think a spruce would have been prettier with its conical shape; my yew is just this blob right now.
Sigh.
- Daniel
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Daniel wrote: So it ends up that my opinion of the tree is biased by the wood. Not that I would ever cut them up and use the lumber.
Elvish bows, huh? I'm personally biased towards my walnut, of course. Tom
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I wouldn't deliberately plant a spruce except for windbreak. They have to be trimmed or they will spread like crazy, they shade out the ground underneath and poison and podzolize it with their acid needles. Had one my dad planted in a front yard years ago. Only thing positive to say about it was it cut down on the lawn area I had to mow. Took the buyers of the house three years to get grass to grow, and then only after I told them that what they needed was lime, not acid mulch to sweeten the soil.
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Funny stuff! No, I try not to think of the lumber, unless the tree is already there, and looks like it wants to be cut down, of course. I'm planning on planting a few more in the yard, and I was leaning towards quaking aspen or paper birch, because I like the way they look- don't care much for the wood in either, though.

I was like that for a very short time, but then I realized that while I hate working with oak (I'm probably sort of a freak in that regard, but I just think it's overrated) I do like the look of them when they're still in the ground!

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And thats what it will be for many years ,in my experience yews are very slow growing and whats more the berries are highly toxic....mjh
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Wow, I though perhaps I was alone in this mania. My family and I recently went camping in the deep woods of Michagan, and we were surrounded by enormous (50-100 ft) white, black, and red oaks.
These were impressive trees. Since they were in a forest they were fairly straight, and clear to at least 20-30 ft. Firewood was plentiful and very dry.
I couldn't help thinking at one point, just how many board feet of really nice lumber was surrounding our cabin. Perhaps these thoughts will pass someday, and to my credit I didn't do a Clark W. Griswold, and haul one away on the roof of our minivan :)
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Daniel H wrote:

...
No, I judge the tree for its suitability for the intended purpose, just as I do in the selection of lumber for a project, whether construction, tool or fine furniture.
Of course, the characteristics of the wood influence that judgement of the suitability of a tree just as in the use of the lumber--one shouldn't plant Bradford pears in locales subject to frequent icing in early spring as a brain-dead example, although many do (eventually to their subsequent regret/enlightenment).
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

I'll add that doesn't mean I don't think of trees in terms of their usefulness as timber or fine lumber, just that I compartmentalize the decision to the objective. I'm not much of one to envision wood spirits and all, however (hey, I'm an engineer by training... :) )
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I have to admit that I do think of my trees as future lumber. I've got 30 acres, with 8,000 trees that I've planted over the last dozen years. Most of what I've planted has been oak, walnut, ash, and maple. Some spruce/pine/fir when the seedling source sent a case of those instead of what I had asked for, and they told me to keep 'em but claim a credit.
So, yes, I'm guilty of choosing my trees based on the eventual timber they'll become, but I spend an awful lot of time keeping things trimmed so they'll be decent lumber, as well. Kind of a very long-term crop that my kid may end up being the one that benefits from. In the meantime, they're nice trees, many of them are taller than I am, and it's really rewarding to watch a field turn into a woodlot.
Dave Hinz
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Dave Hinz wrote:

Oh, most certainly, but that is timbering as opposed to a single-specimen landscaping selection as OP noted. I'd love for the climate here to be conducive to such a venture...I'd start in a heartbeat, but it would simply be a case of watching seedlings succumb to SW KS drought, heat, and wind...this is great grass country, but not at all suitable for forestry.
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I'd love for the

Memories!
Kid in the class ahead of me at Vance AFB had to punch out on his first T-38 solo. Managed to land in one of the three trees within miles and miles up to and beyond the state line. Talk about your bad days!
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I like to choose based on the fruit and appearance.
-j
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