Removing Purple Robinia Tree

Credit: istock/floridastock

Q: I have a purple robinia which looks beautiful and thrives on neglect in my dry Okanagan garden, but it is only about 15 feet from the house and is already as tall as the house. Instinct tells me I should remove it before it gets much bigger. Can I have a second opinion?

Purple Robe (Robinia pseuedoacaicia) is a cultivar of the Black locust tree. It is relatively fast growing to usually about 40 feet and can have a spread of 20 to 35 feet.

It is a great tree as it is is very easy to grow, and is very tolerant of dry and compacted soils once it is established. The criticism I have of this tree is that it forms very tight branch angles that can lead to a situation called “included bark” that can cause branch failure as the tree matures.

Your tree will double in height and spread from the size it is now, so that may be a consideration for you in regards to contemplating removal. You have to ask yourself is it the right tree for the right place. Remember that trees offer shade, beauty, privacy, clean the air, decrease noise, provide shade, and can increase property values.

I have not seen the exact tree location, but I would try to manipulate the tree canopy to provide you with the building and roof clearance required as the tree develops. This does not mean trying to make the tree smaller with crown reduction cuts (topping) but instead raising and removing selected branches for clearance.