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Need your advice on trees...

Posts: 10
Location: Charente, France
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Hi All,

My husband and I just purchased a 5 acre property in southwest France. The previous owners were obviously in love with pine and cedars.  Many of them are planted too close together on the east or south side of the property, and as such shade each other, shade either the south side of our house or prime flat gardening space. My impulse is to cut most of them down...what a shame to cut down a tree,, even a cedar.

Mostly I want to cut down the huge cedars that shade the house on the south side of the house, right on the spot we probably with place the greenhouse.Also, along two driveways/small roads along two side of our property lined with several kids of pines/cedars, we are thinking of thinning them out considerably, leaving only about  So suggestions, caveats, and so on before we reach for a chainsaw would be appreciated.

We have a long neglected English walnut tree (I am pretty sure that is what it is) but I am not 100% sure as there are no nuts on it this year. I speculate that it might be a combination of a rather large ivy growing all over it, a late frost this spring, and being planted in the shade of two trees blocking out some morning sun. Is that possible? In any event we have removed the ivy, thinned out the two shading trees ( we will cut down eventually) and  pruned most of the dead branches. I really would like to bring this tree back to full health but do not really know how. I would appreciate advice/pointing me in the right direction.

What is the best resource for pruning fruit trees? We have 3 cherry, a prune, a pear and a few unknown as they have no fruit this year.

Any sage advice on any of my issues appreciated. Thanks for your time in answering!
Posts: 111
Location: South Central Indiana
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Hello Rebecca,

I was in a similar predicament when I took over the property I'm currently on.  The previous owner, (my uncle) cut down everything "except" cedars.   I wanted to bring a lot more diversity to the area, so I've been cutting down some of the cedars and making furniture out of them.  The biggest reason being that here in the states, apple cedar rust is an issue and I wanted some apple trees.  My philosophy is that if I cut a mature tree down, I put three in its place.  Cedars can be good habitat for some birds but they're not very productive from a food standpoint (exception being medicinal teas, but you don't need a forest of cedars to get that)  I think a lot of people like cedars because they are an evergreen that is aesthetically pleasing, but again, they don't produce much food. So go with your gut.

As for your fruit trees, a good book with pictures will serve you best when it comes to pruning as there are many different disciplines.  The documentary "Permaculture Orchard" describes a French technique that sets more fruit, can't remember the name of the style, but it emphasizes training the limbs downward.  A google search should turn up something.  

Don't feel bad about cutting down the cedars if you have other plans for the area.
Rebecca Lavallee
Posts: 10
Location: Charente, France
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Thank you Marcus

I am hoping we could make some use of the cedar but the prospect of lumbering and storing the wood seems daunting. In any event we will probably have to pay for tree removal of at least two of the trees.

I have the video Beyond Organic Orchard from a farmer in Quebec  but I have not seen the Permaculture Orchard. I will check it out. No matter what I view or read on the subject, pruning a fruit tree feels like a mystery. I think I will cut too much and the the wrong branch.
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Rebecca, may I recommend that you seek out a wood worker in your area, it is probable that they might want those trees and would be willing to pay for the removal costs to get the wood.

If those are true cedar trees, then you would want to locate a Luthier, true cedar is a wonderful top wood for guitars and mandolins. A good luthier would pay you for the tree since they would then have complete control of the aging and processing of the top wood.

If trees are in the way of your plans for your land, then it is never bad to remove the ones that need to go. In the case of crowded trees, it is best for the trees that they be thinned so the survivors can flourish instead of get weak and become a hazard.

If you want to keep any of these trees but the branches are in the way of your progress, trim them off.
I trim my cedars to the point where I can walk under them without hitting any branches, (I am 6'2" and wear a cowboy hat when out on the  farm working), I trim my trees so the lowest branches are 6'8" from the soil.

I would definitely try to get that walnut tree all the light that can be had, it is a valuable tree both for the harvest of nuts and for future wood should it finally perish.

There is a good amount of information on pruning fruit trees here on the site, by many experienced people.
The book I have used and recommend is "A Guide for Pruning Fruit Trees for a Productive Orchard" There are others but this one is quite complete and covers the different ways to prune fruit trees for best production and longevity of the tree.

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