When I was little, I thought every single tree in the world was great, and if you cut down a tree, you were killing the world. I still have that inclination, but I know it's not true. There are trees that just don't live that long, and it's fine to cut them down when they start to decline. There are trees that were planted horribly and compete with one another for limited light and room. There are trees that are just plain terrible for environment and use up limited resources. I have all three of those problems in my small 1/2 acre.
On one side of the property line, there is a very pretty tree with spikes of purple flowers in the spring, but it's declining quickly. I suspect it's a short-lived tree, but I also suspect that it hasn't been cared for properly. It's sending off suckers. There are broken branches. There are vertical growths. Basically, this tree needs to be removed and make way for one of the babies or replaced entirely.
In the back, there are a row of trees that were planted WAY too close together. We've cut down 2 already and cut down a third this past weekend. The trees want to create a fountain with a huge canopy, but because of limited space, they're growing in crooked awkward ways and will doubtfully live for long. Additionally, they don't add much to the landscape, and they will compete with the oak tree that is far more valuable as the oak will live much longer and would cost a whole lot more to remove and the removal could potentially damage the house. The backyard had an obscene number of trees and still has too many. There were 3 cedars, 6 unknowns, 1 pecan, and 1 oak. We're down to 1 cedar, 1 oak, 3 unknowns, 1 pecan, and 1 Eve's Lecklace (a short understory tree) after a lot of work. There are some potted fruit trees, but those are movable and don't count.
And did you know that cedar trees are partially responsible for the drought and water shortage on the Rio Grande? They were planted to help control erosion and because of their drought tolerance. The thing is that cedars are drought tolerant because they can reach their roots down DEEP and suck up loads of water. They use up so much water than very little vegetation can compete and ultimately have caused a lot of problems. The Texas State Parks and Wildlife Department have been selectively spraying the cedars to kill them along the Rio Grande. Two years ago, I had a total of 6 cedars. In the past year, we've chopped down two, and we've cleared it with on of my neighbors to cut down 2 more that are right on the property line. This past weekend we started the process of cutting down these 2. A bonus to this is that my neighbors are allergic to cedar pollen, and having 2 huge ones probably isn't working out too well. I'm personally not allergic, but there are loads of people who are.
There are only two trees on the property that I intend to keep out of the original 16+. I have to say 16+ because I've cut down so many young trees that I can't remember how many there were originally. I am planning on planting more trees, but they'll be trees that are well-adapted without destroying the environment or are completely native. They'll also fit the space, either naturally or through pruning such as with fruit trees.
When we bought the house, we didn't know just how much work the yard was going to be. We knew about the millions of mimosas and all the bamboo. We knew the landscaping hadn't been cared for in a long time, but we didn't know how much labor and expense there would be.
Also, my boyfriend dropped a cedar branch right on top of my wavy prickly pear cactus and Swartburg Beauty iceplant. Fired.