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Maple tree must come down

 
master steward
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I have really enjoyed this tree. However, it is coming to the end of its' life. I am disappointed. Sigh. We've known it has problems, the bumps from long ago removed limbs have been hollowing out. Yesterday I saw this little beauty. It is growing 18 inches from the base of the tree. Likely from the root system of the Maple tree. I have misplaced the article that states Reishi on a tree means that it is dying.

Probable Reishi Mushroom



The tree is at least 60 feet tall, about 2 feet in diameter. For a short list of reasons, we must hire somebody to take this thing down. This will take unplanned money. How soon must we be finished saving up for this? Said another way, how soon might it fall on our home?

I have proposed that we leave a 6-foot tall stump in place to allow the Reishi to pay for the removal. Eventually. It is retailing at $29 per pound at one herbal shop.

 
pollinator
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Pictures of the tree itself might help folks advise you?


There is a slightly smaller maple menacing my parents house. It has been on the way out for 20+ years. They've addressed it by topping, many years ago and again last year.

This seems to have helped the tree, and more importantly it has reduced it to a size that will not quite reach the house, along with removal of the larger branches overhanging the parking area. None of us expected it to survive nearly this long, but here we are...



I have had several tricky trees removed at no cost by a fellow who trains fallers. Not sure if a single tree would be worthwhile for someone like this though.


Perhaps there are burls or usable lumber in the tree, despite being pretty dead? A couple decent burls would certainly help fund removal.

Bigleaf maple coppices quite well here, whether or not you want it to. It seems to me to do so more successfully if the tree is cut sooner rather than later, ie while it still has some energy to try regrowing from the base.
 
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Yes, pictures please!  Is it leafed out properly?  Any dead branches?  Leaning over the house?
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Only one dead branch at about 7 feet high. All the other branches originate higher up, but I.had to give it  hair cut trimming the trailing branche ends from a four foot height to 7. That makes push mowiiso much easier.

I knew y'all would want pics. You will have to wait until sunrise tomorrow.
 
pollinator
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It's sad to lose a fine tree.

It's also practical, and inexpensive, to attach a cable so it falls in the least harmful direction.
 
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I had a bad maple tree here a few years ago.
It was at least 60 ft tall.
Made a throw bag and got some zingit.
Used it to pull a rope into a high crotch and used it to support lower branches while they were cut.

The last 20 ft of every branch was dead,
not safe to climb.

 I cut a chainsaw blade in half and welded some VW diesel headbolt washers onto the ends.
Made a two-person saw.
I cut the flat teeth and left some verticles toward both ends of the chain.
That way it would cut the sides then the flats in the middle would clear the wood.
All teeth is too hard to pull through the wood
Used my throwbag to get it up there and a friend or neighbor to grab one end.
Took a long time and I owed favors to several friends but it was fun.

Once all the dangerous limbs were down I climbed up with a chainsaw and cut bigger limbs part way through and climbed down to yank them with a truck.
It's not too expensive for that stuff since they don't need a bucket truck.

 
pollinator
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If it is an option, I would encourage you to leave a lot more than 6’ of trunk. We left approximately 20’ of a dying beech tree, which was already hollow in places. In the two years since it has picked up a woodpecker nest, and we have seen other birds using the cavity.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I have a couple of four-storey balsam poplars that have to come down. My nephew is a bow hunter. He rigged up an old arrow with a light synthetic string and was able to put a line through crotches halfway up. Now I can pull a cable over and take them down safely.
 
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Douglas, how exactly are you using the cable to guide the tree?  How big of a cable? I am in a similar situation, several very large trees that are far too close to structures.  The quotes to have someone come out to drop them are quite high, as they require a bucket truck and in one case a crane.  I'm fairly certain that I don't have any equipment strong enough to change the direction of the fall of these trees.  I am lucky that for now these are more of a luxury removal, as opposed to the threat of a dead tree crushing the house like the OP, but who knows what the future holds.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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There are a few wispy branches that extend 2 or 3 feet over the roof edge. The tree is located to the east of the house. It leans about 6 feet from base to top, to the south. And my neighbor's fence. To the East of the tree is the road, no electric lines there, but a redbud that needs to come down too. I'm thinking we can handle that one though. A sassafrass is that direction, that I want to keep. I'm thinking felling it towards the north north east would be best, I think it would miss the electric lines and my apple tree directly to the north of the Maple.


The diameter of this limb is about 10 inches. This is the hollowing former cut off limb location. Surely there is a term for that!
 
Mike Haasl
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In general it looks like a reasonably healthy tree to me.  If it's leaning to the South and your house is to the West...  that sounds ok.  If it fell to the south, the fence would be a goner, any other issues in that direction?  It looks sturdy to me so I wouldn't be very worried about it (based on those two pics).
 
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I have a few Oaks around my house in far worse shape.....and have been for 20 years.  I trimmed the branches to significantly increase the odds of them falling away from the house.  I took down 2 that looked too unpredictable.  That left 4 standing.
 
pollinator
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Mike Haasl wrote:In general it looks like a reasonably healthy tree to me.  If it's leaning to the South and your house is to the West...  that sounds ok.  If it fell to the south, the fence would be a goner, any other issues in that direction?  It looks sturdy to me so I wouldn't be very worried about it (based on those two pics).



Yep, that tree looks fine.
 
Brian Michael
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Do you guys know what would cause the locations where it was limbed to "donut" like that?  
 
Trace Oswald
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Brian Michael wrote:Do you guys know what would cause the locations where it was limbed to "donut" like that?  



If you limb correctly, many trees do that.  At least the ones I have done do.  When you limb trees, there is a mark around the branch that practically says "cut here".  If you cut on that line, they often heal like that.  With some trees it is less pronounced, but looks like that. At least, that has been my experience.
pruning-scar.PNG
Pruning scars
Pruning scars
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Brian Michael wrote:Douglas, how exactly are you using the cable to guide the tree?  How big of a cable?


Brian, I know tree removal services are spendy, but sometimes they are the only safe option. Money and stuff can be replaced; people can't.

I have an old cable (a.k.a wire rope) that is about 1/4" diameter. Don't know the official working load, it came with my old property. (Generic specs for 1/4" cable: Safe Working Load 1,400 lb, Breaking Strength 7,000 lb.) I wouldn't go much smaller for work on big trees; a snapped cable is a dangerous beast.

In the past I used it with a 2000 lb. nylon strap come-along. No problems. I also attached it to the trailer hitch of my old Toyota and Mazda 4-bangers to maintain tension and give a final tug on a mostly-cut tree. They made great mobile anchors as well.

I have a loop in either end of the cable secured with two clamps (never trust one clamp, it will slip under load). I get it over the tree branch/crotch and secure via a large removable chain link (the kind with the screw closure) around the cable.

These days I'm gone from the flat lands and in steep hill country. The danger trees are all too close to fences, apple trees, power lines and buildings. It will take some careful planning, but I have better equipment now. A tractor. A couple of portable electric winches I'm testing. And a heavy duty snatch block pulley so I can stay out of the fall zone while I'm pulling on the tree.

One thing I want to try: a "deadman" weight to keep tension on the cable as the tree falls. Probably 200 lb. of sand in canvas bags (or legs of discarded jeans!). Sort of a constant tension spring that's the equivalent of two guys pulling in the right direction until the tree is down. Rather fiddly to set up but much safer if I'm working alone.

I beg pardon for this long-winded post. Pictures would be easier to digest. I'll work on it. :-)
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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The other side of the tree. No idea why I featured the good side... Maybe to relay the size of the tree? I am facing North, my back to the fence, a few feet behind me.


Whooops, count them, TWO dead short limbs.


Peeling vertical limb.


Peeling horizontal limb.


Another hollowing out collar. There is at least one more, I forgot to take a picture of.


 
Mike Haasl
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I believe, if left along, that tree will be standing strong in 40 years.  Of course my advice is worth exactly as much as you paid for it  Based on the new photos I still think it's quite healthy but I'd also be very interested in other opinions.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Mike,

As I already commented, my trees look worse.  I have trimmed off the large limbs on the side of my house.  If the trees do fall, that should help them to fall away from the house. That said , they have been in this condition for 20 years or more. Of course, there are many variables, but I have not lost any sleep.
 
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Michael Cox wrote:If it is an option, I would encourage you to leave a lot more than 6’ of trunk. We left approximately 20’ of a dying beech tree, which was already hollow in places. In the two years since it has picked up a woodpecker nest, and we have seen other birds using the cavity.



I heartily second that motion, if it's workable for you, Joylynn. Woodpeckers can be really great to have around, and living trees with hollows can shelter many different endangered bird species.

Mike Haasl wrote:I believe, if left along, that tree will be standing strong in 40 years.  Of course my advice is worth exactly as much as you paid for it   Based on the new photos I still think it's quite healthy but I'd also be very interested in other opinions.



I am inclined to agree with both Michael and Mike. I think that if you have a dying tree, it will attract not only insects to eat it, but the woodpeckers to eat the insects. If there was some peripheral die-off, that might be taken care of by some selective pest activity, which would then feed woodpeckers. You might need to watch out for deadfalls, and probably prune any branches that aren't putting out leaves proactively, but as long as that tree is structurally safe to stand there, even with a guide wire or two, it is going to do more for the ecology as standing deadwood than even as a six-foot-tall stump.

As a side-note, many raptor birds that keep ground-dwelling garden pests at bay prefer to nest in standing deadwood. And having predator controls on that scale can tend to add more diversity to a system. If the most abundant raptor prey population decreases, there will either be more resources for individuals of that prey species, or there will be more empty niches into which other species can move.

I have no doubt that the maple must eventually come down, as must also the willow, and the oak. The question, though, as always, is when.

-CK
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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While I love the idea of raptors tacking up residence, my new neighbors are raising a large number of meat birds. I'm thinking that might cause a teensy bit of tension. They are renters with plans to stay at least five years.
 
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The split and healed vertical branch looks the most problematic to me. Removing it will probably cause another of those rings of bark trying to close off the bare wood and after many years a rotten core.  The tree can remain remarkably strong even when hollow but snow load or twisting winds can break them eventually.
As others have indicated you can just keep removing parts of the tree and it will regenerate itself.
We had a row along the highway and when they were considered  hazard we cut them for lumber and 10 years later repeated the process. Not unusual in this area to find bicycles and bed springs incorporated in massive regrowth of large maples that were cut down and then ignored.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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When a severe thunderstorm is blowing through, I am constantly drawn to the windows, watching with great trepidation as the wind violently twists this tree about. (Shudders)

One of the tip top branches was twisted off in a recent storm. It's still caught up in the crown of the tree. You can't see it in the pictures posted. I estimate it is 6 inches in diameter, 15 feet long. Just sitting there, waiting to fall on me, once I've forgotten it. Seriously though, it looks pretty well lodged in place.
 
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Brian Michael wrote:Do you guys know what would cause the locations where it was limbed to "donut" like that?  


It looks like healthy branch collar growth to me. I don't normally see it form such a heavy ring, but basically the tree is scabbing over, "healing" the wound.
 
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As an arborist.... trees do not heal in the same principle as we believe them to.

Maple trees are not known for having a strong CODIT principle. CODIT wiki And tend to have one or more wall failures in the CODIT process which leads to decay/cavitation.

I do not see your tree as being a very expensive removal by anyone in the industry with skill. I do not foresee you having to worry about it coming down onto your house either.  While there are structural defects, I do not see prominent signs of excessive water accumulation at the root base or soil upheaval.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Ryan, thanks for your perspective.

Did you note the presence of what is probably reishi mushrooms above a root? So far I've seen 3. One very early spring, found after it was old and woody. One about 1 inch by 2. And the one pictured above that is about 4 inches by 6. Both found just before I started this thread.

We are in an unusually dry period here, else I suspect there would be a larger flush.
 
ryan sahs
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are the mushrooms clustered in the same area by that same root? or are they spread? are they on the northern face of the tree?

to be honest, I am terrible at identifying mushrooms, so I dare not try.
Can you post a picture of a leaf from the tree?
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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The mushrooms are within 2 feet of the trunk, directly over a smallish root. They are on the eastern side of the tree.

Leaf pic will come tomorrow.

Thank you so much for your time!
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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ryan sahs wrote:Maple trees are not known for having a strong CODIT principle.


ryan, can you point us to a reliable source that lists all tree types? That would be most helpful.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Leaf pictures.




And it seems the anthill I forgot about is getting bigger, up against the trunk, on the west side.



 
ryan sahs
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"red maple"

the leaf looks closest to this.

I would suggest mixing up a batch of borax/fat/honey and putting it down on that ant hill.  try to kill it asap
 
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