Tree Care
  Feb 16, 2005 06:03 PST 
Darian, ENTS

When I do find a new tree, or measure an old one, on private property, a lot of the time people ask "what should I do?" I tell them to do nothing. The tree has been there a lot longer than you have, without help. I don't think people are caring for the old trees as much as you think. It is a very expensive endeavor. Where I work, we have a 62" diameter copper beech that is in decline. The tree means a lot to the owners, and they have put over 15k into it over four years. Guess what, still declining. 

We inadvertently kill trees, but it takes a long time for a big tree to die. We have one white oak that was over 100 years old in 1961, when they improved the road near it, and buried it in 26" of soil. It died last year some 40+ years later. I did dig it out, but it was too late. I lost a 187 year old black oak this year (ring count) and all I can figure is that the sewer line that was put in in the 70's was the culprit. On this same line we lost a white oak, and there is a tulip that is fading fast. The line goes through the root zones of all three trees. The only thing I am considering for the tulip is CAMBISTAT. I have never used it though, and it is expensive. This post relates to someone saying that the trees on private property were better cared for earlier. I don't think they are.


Re:  tree care   Darian Copiz
  Feb 16, 2005 06:55 PST 
Scott, ENTS,

I'm glad you brought this up because it touches on something that I have
come to form a personal opinion on. It is my theory that often enough
our efforts to save trees actually hasten their demise. I think
over fertilizing can be one problem, but the thing I have the biggest
issue with is tree cabling. I have brought this up on the Society of
Municipal Arborists listserve before. I was assured that cabling was
done in a manner to allow the tree to flex in the wind. 

This may be
true to an extent, but honestly, I don't believe it. I think cabling
makes a tree a much more rigid structure and prevents it from bending to
it's maximum potential. Instead of individual branches moving
independently the way they have adapted to over decades or even
centuries, they are confined into a movement that the arborist has
determined. I think this makes the tree more susceptible to failure of
the entire tree rather than one or two branches. This theory was
partially formed based on the recent frequency of highly cabled trees
blowing over. 

It is my opinion that trees can take care of themselves
better than we can (mitigating circumstances being an exception).
Furthermore, I'd rather see a tree die with dignity than be stringed up
like a marionette. This is not an attack on arborists, just a
questioning of a practice. What are people's thoughts on this?


RE: tree care   Robert Leverett
  Feb 16, 2005 09:31 PST 


   You have raised an important topic. I have mixed emotions when I see
cabling, wondering if we are trying to stave off the inevitable just to
have an isolated tree serve as either a big tree or historical icon. I
don't know. It is certainly worth a full ENTS discussion.

Re: tree care
  Feb 16, 2005 10:10 PST 
Darian, ENTS

You are lucky, as I have alot of thoughts on this! Cabling can be overdone, as in the Wye oak in Md. They say that it may have had something to do with the entire tree toppling, instead of shedding a major branch. Cabling is supposed to be done so that there is a little slack in the cable. This is the current feeling. They used to make them tight. Most cables are probably installed incorrectly, but the biggest problem I see, is maintenance of the cable system. You cannot install a cable system and forget about it, just like lightning protection. It should be updated every five years or so as the tree grows. We have a few trees cabled here, but it is more for liability's sake. (Showing that you did something to prevent something else) Trees naturally shed branches in the woods, but the habit is drastically different too. open grown trees grow in an unnatural form compared to forest trees, and we try to live under them, so we cable them. Keep in mind also that arboriculture is a business. They are out to sell product and service, and the fear of a limb coming off is usually enough for a customer to say Ok. Most trees are best left alone.

RE: tree care
  Feb 16, 2005 10:14 PST 
Darian, Bob, ENTS

Another thing that gets me are the Oriental style crutches people put on trees. Longwood gardens has a big old Mulberry that is held up with three or four of them. I have seen them on other trees too. The Lacrosse, or Lansdowne sycamore has one and so does the weeping beech in West Chester Pa. I do think they are efforts to maintain a champion, but also a human need to preserve things for as long as you can.