Fir tree replacement?

Asked August 15, 2019, 3:11 AM EDT

Fir trees were planted on our property 30-ish years ago, in perfectly straight lines, so close together that there’s a lot of dead wood for easily the first 50’ because of lack of sun. Sadly, we are talking about removing about 15 of them, because the first line is pushing up our driveway, and the row behind them is completely dead for the first 50’ because of the internal shade. We’ve also been told that if we remove the first row and leave the second, the “tree stand” will be gone and the second row will be very susceptible to death by wind. Based on their growth patterns, they’d most likely land on our neighbors’ barn. My question is, what’s an evergreen, native tree to our area that’s recommended? They’ll get some sun, but not direct all day until they get taller than our house. Ideally the trees would be 30-50’ at maturity.

Clackamas County Oregon forestry

1 Response

Pertaining to the existing fir trees, if they are already very crowded together, then removing one whole row and exposing the neighboring row can lead to trees suffering from the new exposure (sunscald on stems if its South-facing) and also trees falling over in the wind. It sounds like you are considering complete removal of the fir to avoid the risk and then looking for shorter trees to replace the fir.

For replacement trees, first it is important to match the tree species' envrionmental tolerances to the soil and site conditions. Suitable species will depend on your location. Also, what is the purpose of the trees - hedge screen, shade, etc.

None of the native evergreen conifers are small in stature, except for Pacific yew, a slow growing understory tree. If you want a conifer (needle leaved evergreen) that will only go to 30-50 feet, you might need to look at cultivated varieties such as Leland Cypress.

If you are also interested in broadleaf evergreens, there are other options for shorter evergreens, also mostly cultivated varieties such as laurel.