This is so depressing. Webster Street, which could use more trees anyway, just lost a healthy one this morning around the corner from where I live. It could have been uprooted by any truck I suppose, but this looks like another case of uprooting by garbage/recycling truck, considering the proximity of the bins.
There’s a general problem of low limbs being hit by vehicles, which at best damages the limb, and at worst — if the limb is big enough — uproots the whole tree. (You can see both new and old damage to the limb on this tree.) This is largely the result of two decades of no tree crew and flat funding which covered less and less contractor work. Pruning for vehicle clearance and the health of the tree was down on the list of priorities, compared to tree removals and hazard limb pruning. This tree looked to be 22 years old, from counting the rings (it got removed while I was there) and it probably never got pruned.
What can you do? First, if your street tree shows signs of truck damage to the lowest limb over the street, you can put in a 311 request to be added to the pruning request list (yes, the one that was 12 years long). I’m not sure what the wait time is now for general pruning, but going by pruning cuts, it looks like the new tree crew has been getting some dead and low limbs taken care of as they do nearby removals. If you don’t want to wait, you can hire your own contractor to prune for the health of the tree, as long as you clear it with Director of Urban Forestry Marc Welch.
Second, for any size tree, think about what happens with the bin pickup when you’re putting your trash and recycling out. The arm goes out, the bin swings up in an arc, maybe hitting branches, then swings down, usually a few feet away from where it started out, and this can tear branches off of small or medium size trees, really bad because it rips the trunk bark. Trees need all the help they can get to survive, especially in their early years.