Recycling Cypress

One of my favorite places to work – and to visit —  is Wave Hill, the public garden and cultural center in the Bronx. This beautifully designed park is a garden for all seasons. Visiting there should be on every New Yorker’s to-do list.

Work begins taking down these 35-40 ft.cypress trees.
Work begins taking down these 35-40 ft.cypress trees.

We were recently asked to replace several cypress trees in one of their gardens. The trees had grown too large for their location and needed to be removed. 4 foot tall replacement trees had been nurtured on-site, grown from cuttings of the mature cypresses to be removed.  The smaller trees will look more proportionate to the rest of the garden and not obscure the view of the Palisades.

This job was different from most of our tree removal because we were asked to take down the trees in as large sections as possible.  Unlike in forestry, where trees are often cut for lumber, in urban forestry we typically take down trees in 2-4 ft. sections: we don’t often have the room to drop an entire tree; also the smaller, cut sections are easier to manage through tight spaces and into the chipper. However, since cypress is an unusually valuable tree, the trunks would be taken to the woodworking shop facilities at Wave Hill where they will eventually be used in one of their upcoming projects.

I’d like to digress for a moment on the history of cypress trees. Cypresses have been admired and ultilized for thousands of years. They are an old-world Mediterranean tree, whose tall, narrow beauty was used to grace important public and religious sites. The wood was also valued for its lightness, strength and lack of sap. Ancient Egyptians used cypress to make coffins for their mummies; Plato inscribed his code of laws on cypress because he thought it would last longer than brass.

Today, cypress remains a valued wood for its resistance to rot, lack of warping and the beauty of its grain and hue. America has many native cypresses.  The ones at Wave Hill are Lawson Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana).  Though called a “false” cypress, the genus is generally considered part of the cypress family.

Here are some photos from the job:

removing cypress
We began by limbing up the tree by removing small branching

 

anchoring cypress
Then we rigged the bare trunks by anchoring them with a line to another tree.

 

roping cypress
We felled the last trunk by steadying it with ropes from the ground, allowing a slow, controlled progression to the ground.

 

cypress cleanup
Wave Hill wound up with some beautiful cypress logs, up to 20 ft. in length.

Ken Almstead, CEO and Arborist