Not Again!

Is there such a thing as bad tree karma? If there is, I think I have a terrible case of it.

A few months ago, a large tree in my back yard that had been leaning since the day I moved in 26 years ago, decided it was tired of leaning and gently laid itself down across the length of my backyard. Scared the willies out of me when it fell since it was late at night. I sat listening inside my office wondering what the heck was happening just outside the office windows. (See this post for that very strange day: A Very Weird, Very Strange Day.)


About a month later big storms came through our area. I wasn’t here, was away in Morocco at the time. When I returned home and went outside to fill the bird feeders, I found this. What?!!!


Apparently, bad tree karma is making its way around the neighborhood. Night before last we had a little excitement out front of my home.


A large oak tree in my neighbor’s front yard across the street decided it was tired of standing.


It came crashing down, completely blocking our street. So strange because it wasn’t raining at the time and there was little to no wind.


This was the view out of my upstairs bedroom window the next day. Holy tree, Batman!


The tree was so tall, the canopy/top of the tree reached all the way to the row of holly bushes in my yard.


Remember the new bird feeder I just installed on Sunday?


It survived unscathed…just visible at the edge of this photo below.


I felt especially bad for my neighbors. Some of the branches came down partially across their daughter’s new car, a car she had just gotten 4 days before. πŸ™ That was the main casualty in this tree drama.


The tree made the most bizarre noise when it fell. It was nothing like the sound made by the tree that slowly laid down across my backyard. When this tree fell, it fell fast and hard. I heard a loud, fast, swoosh–kind of like the sound you hear when professional fireworks are being launched into the night sky. I didn’t feel it when it hit the ground, but my neighbors did. They described the sound as a fireworks sound, too.


It really dawned on me how hard it fell when I found bits and pieces of the tree in the foundation shrubs in front of my home. That’s pieces of the tree in my boxwood shrubs that are right up against my house!


It fell all around my mailbox, but the mailbox was still standing once the branches were removed. Even the hydrangea behind it survived.


The day after it fell, our county sent a crew out to remove part of the tree. They only stayed an hour or two, promising to return the following day. Today they returned and cleared away all the debris down both sides of the right-away. That took care of most of the tree and my neighbors and I cleared away the remaining bits and pieces.


So the only real damage my yard sustained was a few deep gouges in the sod. I need to do a bit of research on the best way to fill those in.


Hope your week has been much less eventful! πŸ™‚

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  1. Perhaps there is a bright side. I am thinking back to when you had the large oak removed from in front of your house. That tree could have knocked it over into your house and caused so much damage. You must be so glad that you had it removed.

    • I think it would have missed it, but not sure. I was telling my neighbor that I’m really glad it’s gone after seeing this one come down so suddenly. I love trees, but they can be really scary!

  2. I’m glad the tree didn’t do too much damage and that no one was hurt.

  3. Susan,

    So sorry to see all the damage caused by that poor tree tired of standing! At least no one was hurt. Our family motto has always been “Could Be Worse” (based on a book I read to my boys when they were little). And…when you think about what could have happened when that tree fell – oh my!!!

  4. Wow! That could have been really bad. I would think it would be up to your neighbors to have someone out to fix your yard. It was their tree. It didn’t look like it was hollow or anything either. Maybe it was just all the rain we’ve been having.

  5. Ugh! But wow, incredible that no more damage was done, but how sad for the neighbor’s daughter with her new car. πŸ™ My guess is you’ll need to replace the sod in those stricken areas. It doesn’t look like the tree was diseased from what I can see of the trunk. Strange……

  6. Charlotte says

    Thank God no one was hurt or any homes damaged. I do feel bad for the young lady whose brand new car was damaged, I am sure she was so excited to have a new car. Bad Luck usually comes in 3’s, so this should be it!

  7. Susan! I am so sorry you are experiencing all of these bad tree karma incidences. Take heart however. Your readers are right. It could have been much worse. The tree(s) could have fallen on a person or persons, including you. The trees could have fallen on your house, (this is when you are very happy that you have homeowner’s insurance). The trees could have suffered a lightning strike and started a fire in addition to falling. (Now I am imagining all sorts of worst case scenarios.) I do not live in your part of the country, so I don’t know what sort of weather you have had in the last year or so, but in California we’ve had a crazy past winter with excessive amounts of rain, after having had years of drought, consequently we’ve experienced lots of fallen trees. Trees become stressed when they experience these extremes in weather. I have a next door neighbor with a few VERY large redwoods, each about 90 feet tall. Every time I look at them, I shudder. They are right next to my property line. It’s not only my fear of them falling, but also the fire hazard they present. Redwoods can grow for centuries and become mammoth. She refuses to trim them or maintain them, meanwhile their branches are encroaching over onto my side of the fence and I have to trim them so that they do not grow over to my roof! (So see, you could have bad neighbors, to boot!)

    • Thanks, Lisa. It would be a bit scary having trees that large so close by. I remember seeing Redwoods when I visited CA many years ago and they were absolutely awe inspiring. I’m glad you guys don’t get tornados like we do here. That’s normally when we see trees coming down here.

  8. All in all, I’d say you and the neighbors were fortunate that it didn’t crash down on one of your homes or on someone who happened to be outside. Scary when a tree comes down. We had it happen in our first home in the 1980s. We had two huge elms in our front yard. One morning we woke to find that one had gently fallen over towards our home. It was actually leaning on the roof. We lost the other one the following year, and then planted two burr oak trees. It’s amazing to drive by and see how the two oaks have grown through the years. Wish we had planted a burr oak here when we moved into this home over 20 years ago.
    Glad you are safe and that you didn’t have any damage to the bird feeder or mailbox.

    • Thanks, Sarah! I’ve never heard of a Burr Oak. I need to Google and see how those look. Did your Elms have that Elm disease that so many trees had many years ago?

    • Just checked it out and those have the most interesting acorns! I love the shape of the tree, too!

  9. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? ” I would say YES!! That “tree thing” must be going around…we just had a huge pine go down across the road and I couldn’t get to our place so hauled groceries…in pouring rain, over the tree, through poison ivy and then a neighbor phones and says…you’d better move your car…there is another tree about to fall right where you’re parked, I did and it did!! franki

  10. Wow, that was a close call; so glad no one was hurt! My home is surrounded by trees, and I always worry when we get high winds or ice storms. A lighting bolt hit a huge gorgeous old oak years ago in the middle of a golf course at the top of our road and it literally exploded. Everyone in our house jumped and later we learned the sound was heard from many streets over. The poor tree was just splinters afterward. So sad. πŸ™

    • Thanks, Donna…me too! Lightening is so scary, we have a lot of lightening storms in Georgia. It really makes you realize how powerless we are sometimes.

  11. Vicki Entze says

    Susan, so glad no one was injured and all houses are still in tact. Where we live we have huge fur trees. When we lived in our house out in the country we were surrounded by trees. We had a company come and take down forty of them because an inspector said they were killing our house. A couple of years later we had a huge storm. My neighbor called and said a tree in our front yard was leaning toward our house. I looked but really couldn’t see it. I just hung up and we lost power then minutes later that tree fell right on our house! It sounded like an earthquake, it shook the house to the foundation. It broke our huge transom window over our two front doors and damaged our roofline. That was scary…

  12. wow. wondering if the city or county has a team of tree specialists or maybe USDA’s soil scientists in their Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) could take a look and see if there is an underlying problem with the soil or roots of the trees that’s causing such a problem in the area? It should be a free service as NRCS is funded by the federal government. Look them up in the yellow pages or google them. There should be a local office.

  13. I know your feelings. We live surrounded by giant trees on empty lots that may never be built on. There is one tree across the street broken with a hole in the middle leaning on another tree which now is also leaning aimed at that neighbors house. Every time a bad storm comes through or we get high winds or excessive rain I worry if one of our neighbors trees on the perimeter of our house will take aim. Sometimes with rain the trees uproot and just fall. Sometimes disease/bugs weakens the trunk and it becomes a threat. One never knows when they will decide to fall. I have wished we could afford to buy all the empty lots and cut back all the trees too close too our house but the architectural committee would have a fit. They decide about how many and which trees may come down and besides, I have more to do with the $100,000 which we don’t have lying around than to buy empty lots and cut down trees they wouldn’t let us cut anyway. So, I feel your pain and I say ten hail Mary’s when they don’t fall ( and I am not even Catholic) and pray to the tree God and talk to the tree fairies and ask them to bless our house. So far it has worked I guess. Maybe it is our guardian angel. One can only hope. I have gotten to the point of worrying about the little fawns around our house and doe when we have storms. I suppose, it adds to the excitement of life not knowing what the next day will bring. So, the moral to all of this……..I am not sure there is one except to live each day to the fullest maybe. You seem to be doing a pretty darn good job though.

  14. So much damage, with so much good fortune all around it. Except for the damaged new car–that sucks. The real scare is the why. No rain, wind, apparent disease. So that would make me real suspicious of all the remaining trees. πŸ™‚

  15. Susan, your neighbor’s tree’s falling sounds very much like ours from about 3 weeks ago. On a beautiful, sunny, windless day, I heard a loud crack and then a loud boom on our roof. A relatively young oak tree in our front yard suddenly broke in the fork and most of the tree fell sideways in our yard and on our roof. The tree was probably about 20 feet tall. We were lucky to only have damage to the gutters and some smashed hostas in the front beds. We could see lots of little holes in some branches, which told us some kind of bores must be the culprits. The tree was rotten inside at that fork. It stood as long as it could and at that moment couldn’t hold itself up any longer. It was some kind of a fright to hear it come down. At least it laid itself across our yard and didn’t block the street. I’m glad all of us came through it unscathed! Our incident cost us $700. I now have a pretty little bed with a rock surround in the middle of the yard with little hostas and impatiens in it. And of course, a big old stump!

  16. Nancy of Lske Stevens says

    I don’t know what your relationship with your neighbor is like but perhaps their insurance would pay to repair your lawn. Just a thought. So glad everyone is safe but I bet your nerves are shot. We get many falling trees here in the Pacific Northwest. It is very scary.

  17. Wow that would have been quite a shock! So lucky that it didn’t damage more things. We had a very large ash tree that was taken down by the power company and dropped on our yard. The earth moved when it hit and it left a deep depression in the yard. Dan filled it with soil- then re-seeded it and it filled in nicely. It is curious that these trees have become ill/weak as to let go like that. I looked up Oak Tree Diseases in Georgia and there were some things listed including shoestring root rot, oak wilt and sudden oak death. Because of the emerald ash borer we have seen ash trees succumb throughout Michigan. It’s sad to see.

  18. I guess there are some compensations for living in Northwest Arkansas! It’s not a bad place; I’m just homesick; I’m from New England. But we have no tree problems! I see I’m in the minority. We live in a master planned community and it was a large farm, so all of our trees are comparatively “young” (17 years or less); we do have large oaks in our main park, but so far none of them have come tumbling down. And we have torrential rain at times, and pretty high winds (tornadoes!), but so far our trees are strong and standing! Thank you, Arkansas!
    Seriously, Susan, I do feel for you in this. Any type of home problem is overwhelming. I have seen my Dad, in the past, fill in problem areas in our lawn with good soil and reseed. That works well. You may have to create a barrier of some kind to keep the birds from eating the seed. Maybe some of the branches from the fallen trees could be laid across those areas until the grass sprouts. And I know you have to water newly sown and sprouted grass very consistently and often (daily at first). I wish you the best in your recovery efforts.

  19. Cynthia Raines says

    Good night! What a shocker! As all have said, thankfully no one was hurt. When I walk in our woods I sometimes think about a tree falling without warning, but trust God that they won’t when I’m in there. Glad your mailbox and new feeder didn’t get touched. Too sad about the car and yes, it may be worth asking them to fix your lawn, I would think there insurance should pay for it.

  20. Cynthia Raines says

    oops, should be “their” insurance … πŸ™‚

  21. Scary stuff, especially that new car. Last year when we had a hurricane, my tall tree with yellow blooms broke in half and fell on my neighbors fence and in his yard. He said it looked like lightening had hit it previously and the storm blew it over. Worried because the tallest tree now is my giant orchid tree and lightening hit in that area recently. In 2004 during a hurricane, I watched the oak in my front yard lift out of the ground and thought it might come thru the front window. I lost another one by the driveway. Some oaks do not have deep roots.
    But, the scariest thing was years ago at a duplex we rented. A big pine tree was right at the back sliding glass door. During a storm lightening hit that tree and nothing happened until one day it went boom ! Later, when we opened the sliding glass door, it shattered from the vacuum created.
    The good news is when no one is hurt.

  22. In my old home we had a fir tree fall onto the house. It fell so slowly that it did not cause structural damage but was noisy! It took a crane to lift it off and into the street to cut up. Took a few hours and blocked in neighbors who had not moved their cars when asked.

  23. Chrystal says

    My oh my! Our beautiful trees. I know how long and hard it takes to grow a big beautiful tree. And then to have it fall down for unknown reason. Really sad. Glad no one was hurt.

  24. Sorry to hear this happened…glad you are safe and no damage. We have two DEAD trees that are on the edge of our property…not on our property so we have little control. I always worry when there is a storm…moving soon, so I hope they don’t bother the new owners. We love that the lot behind us is all woods and has been designated a safe place by the EPA because of bog turtles living there. But the developer ( not ours) is not keeping up with the trees that are dying. Many trees going down here in PA with big storms….stay safe!

  25. Wow! So sorry about the neighbor’s car, especially if it’s her first one Glad no one was injured

  26. Glad no one was hurt. Hope you can get everything back to normal. I would assume their insurance would pay for your costs, I hope!

  27. Tamara Shaffer says

    Hi Susan. I am so glad no one was hurt! A few years ago a big tree fell here in Austin, and when the city crews cleared it, they found a woman under it who was killed when it fell. That was horrible and so sad. Trees can be scary! Sorry about your neighbor’s new car, but that is why we have insurance.

  28. Susan,

    So sorry to hear about your bad luck with the trees! And, happy to hear there wasn’t any serious damage because of it.

    You mentioned bad tree karma and I had to smile. This brought back a time when I felt the same way — thinking I might be having serious issues because of karma.

    Now, at the risk of sounding like a crazy person, I have to ask — have you recently added an owl statue to your yard, home or anywhere else on your property? As silly as it sounds, I think this is what turned out to be the reason I was having all my bad luck while decorating my house several years back. It was one disaster after another. The wrong drapes being delivered. The furniture coming in with either the wrong fabric or some sort of damage. Items being discontinued just as I was ordering them. And, finally, wallpaper that didn’t match on the edges when put on a 20 ft. ceiling. I was beside myself. And, then I heard about owls being bad luck and realized I had just purchased an owl statue for one of my shelves in the family room — the room with which I was having all the issues. I thought it was silly to even consider this as the reason, but decided I had had enough and was willing to try anything to turn things around. So, I made up my mind to throw the statue out. I took it to an open field and set it free — and me along with it. After that, no more bad luck with the decorating! Everything changed and the room turned out to be absolutely beautiful and our favorite spot in the house. While I was never a superstitious person before, this particular superstition ended up being one I happen to believe in from that day on.

    So, check your premises for owls! Good luck! πŸ˜‰

  29. Rita Kern says

    Glad no one was hurt and no major damage done. The tree might not have been planted as deep as it should have been, causing the roots to be more shallow. Usually a tree that big won’t fall unless really high winds and
    perhaps deeply saturated ground after huge amounts of rain.

  30. Mamey Brown says

    How strange since it wasn’t even storming. Well, thank God nobody was hurt.

  31. I have to say that I think you are very lucky! Three trees down and none hit your house or did any real damage. I’d say that is good karma for you! Glad everyone was okay…well except for the neighbor’s car. πŸ™

    • That’s a good way to look at it, Vicki! We have sooo many trees in the Atlanta area. Back in the day, builders didn’t clear cut like they do now. They just carved out a spot for each house in the forest where the subdivision was going in. That gives you a lot of mature trees in your yard but it’s scary when they start falling.

  32. Great to hear that no one was injured with the damaged tree. Knowing insurance, you’re neighbor can add to their claim that repair to your landscaping be incorporated. The insurance adjuster will easily add this to the claim.

    • Thanks, Mo! It’s a bit more involved to fix all the ruts and holes than I had initially hoped. I’m going to work on this tomorrow and see how it goes. I found out the holes need to be filled with a combination of river sand and top soil in a 50/50 ratio, although the place I’ll be buying the river sand says their sand is very loamy, so I may not need the top soil. It doesn’t come in bags unfortunately, so they suggested buying a bunch of Home Depot buckets and transporting what I need that way. So I think I’ll try that tomorrow and see how it goes.

  33. Nancy Trotta says

    I live in Northern New Jersey. This summer a toddler was killed by a tree that fell on him while riding one of those battery cars. He was cruising around his grandparents’ yard in the nearby town I grew up in. This is so sad on so many fronts. The family is devastated. Trees can look healthy but the roots are what holds the tree in place.

    I heard a tree fall once in my lifetime It’s a sound you never forget. I felt the earth shake when a neighbors’ tree fell across their concrete in-ground pool. They eventually filled in the back yard but it took a long time and they spent a lot of money. No one was hurt, thank God.

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