The Demise of the Norway Maples

Those of you who’ve been reading along for a while now know that the abundance of invasive Norway Maples in my neighbor’s yard have been causing some issues for me in my wildlife garden for quite some time now.

About the only good thing I have to say about the invasive Norway Maples is that they have hosted many different woodpecker nests over the years, including Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. And we’ve even had Pileated Woodpeckers stop by to feast on the bugs under the loose bark!

Pileated Woodpecker

Over the years my wildlife garden has become my special haven, a quiet place to get away from the cares of the world and relax in the beauty and calm of the birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife who have chosen to take up residence here in my garden.

This is my safe spot, and that safety is inviolable.

The property next door has been abandoned for about 5 years now, and the previous owner had no interest in caring for these trees, or even fixing the roof problems causing severe water damage to his house.

Last summer my nephew Lucas came and helped me clear a 20 foot wide buffer zone on this neighbor’s side of the fence which we then planted with hardy (and beautiful) native plants to create some beauty for us, some habitat for the birds and butterflies, and to hold at bay all of the invasive plants that were growing with wild abandon over there.

Earl V. Ross smashed my garden chairs while taking down trees

Earl Ross smashed my garden chairs

Imagine my surprise when I returned from my trip to Albuquerque to find a contractor driving a huge crane and a backhoe onto this property.

My two Plott Hounds were going nuts, so I went outside to see what was going on.

Earl Ross of Goodman and Ross Trucking in Philadelphia introduced himself and informed me that the house had been sold at sheriff sale to someone who wanted to flip it at an enormous profit, and that he was there to take down the Norway Maples and other trees for the new owner of the house. He asked us about the things we had planted and assured us that he wanted to be careful not to remove anything that we wanted.

Little did I know at that time that Earl V. Ross, Jr would become a frightening nightmare who cared very little for his own safety or that of his crew, nor did he care one whit for my home, my garden, my neighbors homes, or power or cable wires (he reminds me of the frightening situation I faced with John Carson and Sons Roofing, and that is terrifying!)

Here’s an example of his work which shows he should be nominated for a Darwin Award:

Earl Ross is a danger to all around him. He used no safety ropes on any of the tree limbs, instead allowing giant tree trunks to free fall on top of the power and cable lines and smash into the street. He thinks it’s safe to use a chain saw with one hand.

Earl Ross smashed a garden gate while doing tree work

Earl Ross smashed my garden gate

After he let a huge Norway Maple limb free fall into my garden and smash my brand new garden gate, destroy 2 chairs, and take out my cable service, I was rightfully upset about the danger he posed to my home and garden.

Earl Ross tree removal wipes out my cable and phone service

Earl Ross tree removal wipes out my cable and phone service

The response I got from Earl Ross when I expressed my displeasure about his destruction of my garden?

He said “Now you’re just going to whine about every little thing?”

He then continued, “Accidents happen. You know that guy that caused that building to collapse in Philadelphia, he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, it was just an accident. So stop your whining and leave me alone.”

And then the clincher, “You didn’t have anything of value in your garden anyway.”

Nothing of value in my garden? Are you kidding me? My garden itself is a huge value to me, as I’m sure would be the case with any gardener I know.

And then I found out that Earl V. Ross, Jr. of Goodman and Ross Trucking in Philadelphia is not only extremely dangerous when doing tree work, he’s also spiteful and vindictive as well, because he then proceeded to cut down and destroy everything that I had shown him that we had planted over there.

Earl Ross destroyed the safe place that was my wildlife garden haven. And I’m not at all happy about that.

Earl, the owner of Goodman and Ross Trucking, should have known that driving large construction vehicles would rip up the ground, making landscaping extremely difficult, and any reputable arborist would have used turf protection mats to limit this damage, but this is obviously not a reputable contractor.

Check out the mess he’s left behind:

Whats Left

If Earl Ross is any indication of the quality of workmanship that this new owner is going to hire to fix up this house, I hold out little hope that he’s interested in quality work. Obviously he’s more interested in the cheapest price he can get regardless of safety or the damages to anyone else’s property.

If you need to have tree work done on your property, please take the time to check out the credentials of any contractor before you hire them. A certified arborist is your best choice. Don’t hire some guy with a chain saw. He’ll put your home, your garden, your property, and your life in danger. I mean, you wouldn’t hire a plumber to do open heart surgery, why would you hire a trucking company like Goodman and Ross to work on your trees?

Sean Duffy and Joanne Donohue of Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education planting my new Redbud tree

Sean Duffy and Joanne Donohue of Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education planting my new Redbud tree

Happily, this story has a much more positive ending. I had gone to the native plant sale at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education back in May and purchased a raffle ticket to win a good sized native Redbud tree, thinking that it was a nice way to make more of a contribution to the good work they are doing.

Imagine my surprise when they called to tell us that we had won that tree!

Removing the wire cage and pulling back the burlap

Removing the wire cage and pulling back the burlap

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Joanne Donohue and Sean Duffy who manage the nursery at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education when they came to plant my new tree.

I asked them to plant it along the fence line where the tree massacre had just taken place to serve as the start of a screen to block out the bad memories inflicted by Earl Ross.

Joanne Donohue and Sean Duffy in front of my new Redbud tree

Joanne Donohue and Sean Duffy in front of my new Redbud tree

My new tree makes me very happy, and has gone a long way in restoring my sense of safety in my wildlife garden haven.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, please stop by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, also stop by and give the SCEE Facebook page a “like”

Also see Norway Maple I’m Stuck With You for another perspective on this invasive tree

Follow the make-over in my wildlife garden:

Check out my new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week, teaching you to garden sustainably, conserve natural resources, and create welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden.

© 2013, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us

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  1. says

    While I’m not a huge fan of Norway maples, the demise of any tree, and especially the complete destruction you experienced is truly awful. For you personally and for the environment. Unfortunately your horror story with the contractor is not uncommon- too many louts are in the business. I wholeheartedly underline your advice, and found a good arborist through word of mouth in my community. It makes such a difference to have an expert work safely and with the good of the trees and property in mind!

    You will love you redbud! So happy you had a silver lining to this fiasco.
    Ilona recently posted..Buddleia Bushes, The Butterfly Magnet

  2. says

    As a landscape professional, I’m horrified to hear about this. None of the things you describe are approved practice and he was operating in a very unsafe manner. Even when you alerted him to the danger he was causing, it not only didn’t wake him up, but made things worse!

    I would urge you to contact every local and state organization you can think of. Whomever issues business licenses, contractor’s licenses, arborist’s certifications, etc, should be aware that he is operating in this way. Whether or not he has a license, they’ll be very interested in knowing that you have photos and video of his unsafe practice. I’m really beyond horrified and so sorry he put you through this. Totally unacceptable.
    Genevieve recently posted..Edible Landscaping for Industrial Settings: Tips and Best Plants

  3. says

    I was drawn in by the picture that accompanies your story, only to be horrified by the tale. I sympathize, since I have a half-dead Red Maple on my property, which is host to countless species of woodpeckers. Granted, it’s more desirable than the Norway Maple, but I’ve debated keeping it for the birds, vs. taking it down for safety reasons. I can’t bring myself to take it down, so we’ll see what nature brings!
    Brenda Lynn recently posted..Tomato Trials

    • cynthia says


      Have you thought about just taking the dangerous branches off the red maple and leaving the trunk standing for the woodpeckers? This works best in a wild setting and might not be a great look in a suburban lot, but it might be a good compromise.

  4. Marsia says

    I just realized we are in the same area. We bought a property filled with invasives , the Norway maple being the least of the problems, and I would love insight on local resources to help eradicate them.


  1. […] cutting the whole mess back, then the nightmare portion began as he used very dangerous methods to cut down most of the invasive Norway Maples, such as not using any safety ropes, but just allowing large limbs to fall on our electric wires […]

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