My tree - advice wanted

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by MoominDave, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I own (well, joint-own, but let's keep this simple) my house. It has a garden at the back, not huge, but not tiny either. The house is tucked away on a niceish cul-de-sac off the side of a slightly grotty estate. It's at the end of a terrace, with a school playing field to one side, and gardens to the other side and rear. There's a nice amount of big vegetation in the garden - enough to give the illusion that the house is somewhere slightly nicer than it actually is. I like my trees.

    One tree in particular dominates - it's at the bottom of the garden, and is about 20 or 30 feet tall with a wide canopy. I'm not sure what type of tree it is - maybe a Beech? I'd have to check. This tree grows in a slightly awkward fashion - it's right by the bottom fence, and grows sideways over the boundary at a height of about 3 feet, after which it curves upwards, and splits into two main branches at a height of about 4 feet, each about 9 inches in diameter, one of which grows further away, across the next couple of gardens, the other of which grew (note the past tense) close to vertically, slightly back towards my garden.

    Looking out of my kitchen window a couple of days ago, I spotted that substantial parts of the tree seem to be a lot nearer the ground in my garden than they used to be. Popping out to investigate, I found that the trunk has split vertically downwards for about a foot and a half between the two main branches, resulting in the half of the tree that grows in this direction putting some undetermined portion of its substantial weight onto the side fence of the garden as it sagged down.

    So, what should I do? I don't want to have to have this tree cut down, but I'm not sure its salvageable. Options seem to me to be:
    1) Leave it as it is; both halves still seem to be alive. But then wouldn't it just split further in future, and eventually come tumbling down?
    2) Me cut off the half that is dangling into my garden. But then would the strength of the roots be sufficient to support the now rather unbalanced weight of the tree? It would be a disaster if it fell over away from my garden - it would crush two sheds and somebody else's fence - not to mention threaten life and limb!
    3) Pay a tree surgeon to look at it - and probably take it down. This is certainly the most responsible course of action - but how much does a tree surgeon cost?

    There is a fourth possibility - the scumbags who are tenants of the garden at the bottom have previously vandalised to the point of destruction the fence separating my property from theirs. Their landlords have offered previously to replace the fence, and to take out that tree as part of the process (I asked them to wait until their tenants are gone - they are to be evicted on Sept 6th) - it's probably worth speaking to them to see if they are still willing to make good on that promise...

    I can post photos if they would help... Thanks!
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    By the way, here's a Google maps link to an aerial view of it:
    It's the tree right in the middle of the picture; my house is to the right and slightly up, on the end of the terrace with another biggish tree right next to it.
  3. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Dave, from a purely logical angle, I reckon the 4th solution is the way to go. It is very unlikely that the tree can be saved, the damage it could do if left would be your responsibility, so if you can get it removed and a new fence for free, it would be worth it. It would even be worth offering to contribute towards the cost! (Will it last out until September?)

    Then you could plant a tree of your choice a bit further away from the fence :biggrin:
  4. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    Morello Cherry trees are excellent - I've just had one planted at the bottom of my garden.
  5. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    The third option is the way to go, if you want to have a chance of saving the tree.

    I had a large ornamental pear tree on my front lawn (which is not very big). A large limb split off during a summer storm. I decided that the tree was OK and simply had the limb carted away.

    The next winter we had a mild snow and the rest of the tree fell.

    On my house, and my wife's van.

    She was not happy at all.
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Just had a tree surgeon round to give a quote. Apparently it's a goat willow, and so is the tree around the side. They tend to get brittle when they get older, unhelpfully...

    He said it needs to come down to the stump, and quoted £340 for the work. Ouch! Waiting on a call from the landlords of the house at the back re whether they are interested in paying for any or all of the tree removal... I wonder whether it would be safe to attempt taking any of it down in an amateur way...
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  7. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    Probably not. Just spotted this thread, sorry!

    My Dad's a fully qualified and insured tree surgeon, but he's in Scotland, probably would cost even more to transport him down to do this work for you with a discount. From my (limited) experience, it would be safer and potentially cheaper in the long term to get someone in who is qualified to do this work, as they have are obliged to have liability cover (I'd double check that they have it, lots of cowboys around), and would tend to know what they're doing. Maybe the landlords would split the cost 50/50 with you, and still replace the fence?

    Also - get quotes from more than one company, and don't just go for the cheapest. Make sure they sound like they know what they're doing. My Dad has been undercut before by cowboys who "patched up" a tree that subsequently died (similar to brasscrest's story above I suppose, only these were "professionals").
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    The chap who looked at it didn't seem to think that there was the slightest point in trying to patch it up - the long gash where it's split will leave it very vulnerable to infection, apparently, not to mention substantially weakened due to the thinner timber at that point. Cutting it back to the stump should result in it sprouting from that and eventually regrowing - willows are pretty hardy this way, apparently.

    So the task for anyone working on it seems to be simply to take it down - an order of complexity down from successfully patching it up, I would imagine, and thus less likely to be susceptible to the problems of cheap workmanship... Is that fair?

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