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Help decide the fate of my arborvitae

 
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Hello,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I just bought my first house in the burbs and am working on my food forest. The area isn't very big, about 20ft X 60ft, so its going to be a bit crowded. I've placed two sweet chestnut trees in just about the only spots they can go considering the house and the local laws. Unfortunately, there is a large arborvitae nearby that will compete with one of my young chestnuts and I don't know what to do with him.

I'm not a fan of arborvitae in general, they're kind of ugly and I don't see what value it is providing me. It adds a bit of winter nesting habitat and bird food. but there are 3 other arborvitaes and some other evergreen shrubs on the property for that. My food forest and dense edible hedge should more than make up for the loss. It adds a tiny bit of shade in an already shady corner of my PNW yard whatever that's worth. It adds no privacy or sound barrier where its at.

So my options are:
Relocate a 20ft tree.
Give it away on Craigslist.
Kill it by girdling but leave it in place as a snag for birds.
Chop and mulch it.
Hugelbed or mushroom log (I've never heard of using an arborvitae for that...)
Wood pile for mice, rabbits, frogs, spiders, etc.

Have you tried any of these with arborvitae?
Are there any options I should definitely not choose?

Thanks in advance.
 
steward
Posts: 8857
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Tyler, welcome to permies!

I wouldn't bother trying to move or give it away, I'm thinking it's too established for that to be a practical exercise.  I'm doubting too many cultivated mushrooms would like to live in it.  It is probably fairly rot resistant so if it's only part of a hugel I'm guessing it would be fine.

My vote would be to either girdle it (it will still cast shade for years) or cut it down for the animals.  The deer (if you have any) will eat it for a while.  Low nesting birds will probably nest in it for a few years.  Mulching it up would also work well.
 
gardener
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Location: Piedmont 7a
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Welcome aboard, Tyler!  Great to have you.

Do you have a picture?  Might be easier to visualize.

From the sounds of it, I am with Mike on this one. I would probably just take it down quickly, as there is other similar habitat, and it is holding back your other goals. Chop and drop can be hard when it comes to established and otherwise healthy trees, but easier if you keep the end goals in mind.
 
pollinator
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Location: Western MA, zone 6b
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You can never have enough wood chips.   I like arborvitae in general, but in limited space and not an ideal spot?   yeah,  I'd cut it down and mulch it up if possible.   Put it back to work for you and make space for something useful.  
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