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Old 08-23-2012, 03:27 PM   #1
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


Take a look at this birch tree. It wasn't always leaning like this, but it's got a significant keel these days. It looks like the root ball is slowly coming out of the ground.....

...Any ideas? The best we can come up with is to lop off the top so it isn't as heavy. It often leans all the way to the ground in an ice storm, but it pops back up afterward.

Southern Ohio, and the tree is ~20 years old.

What do you think?


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Old 08-23-2012, 03:36 PM   #2
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


That's not too close to the house is it? Maybe this is a good time to transplant it to a further location?

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Old 08-23-2012, 03:43 PM   #3
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


Time for that tree to go.
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Old 08-23-2012, 03:44 PM   #4
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


Looks like that other tree needs some trimming to. Limbs should never be allowed to come in contact with the house.
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Old 08-23-2012, 04:39 PM   #5
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


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Time for that tree to go.

good grief, time to go

get a good strong stake, drive it in close to the house, attach an eye bolt to it,get some good strong wire and a foot long piece of garden hose, wrap hose around tree about halfway up, run wire though hos and wrap around itself and attach other end to eye bolt after pulling tree up straight.

taking the tree down is just ridiculous
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:42 AM   #6
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


I'd take it out as well; IMO trees, especially one that tall, should not be within 2' of the house. A bush yes, tree no.
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:24 AM   #7
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


I vote to get rid of it.
Not only is the life expectancy of a birch really not all that long anyway, It just doesn't look the nicest in that location.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:55 PM   #8
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Let it go. It’s not good for the flooring in the long run.
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:30 PM   #9
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


You should not have let the tree go so long without pruning. You can try trimming it severely and taking lots of sail and surface area out of it. It looks healthy enough you could try and transplant it.

Especially for a birch, it was planted way to close to the house. They have nasty invasive root systems.

You can probably save it but whether it is worth it is up to you. You will need a tree surgeon or arborist that can grab the root ball to move it.
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:49 PM   #10
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


Get rid of that tree now. Even if that tree could be straightened, it is way too close to the house. You definitely don't want this thing towering over your house in a wind or ice storm. Birches keel over easily in the ice and wind, and if you let it get much bigger you risk significant damage to your house.

Cut it down and put something in more appropriate for the site and safer for the house, that's my vote.
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Old 08-24-2012, 04:31 PM   #11
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6 to 1 , I loose, you have to know I was an arborist for 20 years and I would do most anything to keep a healthy tree alive.Still feel that way.
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:07 PM   #12
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6 to 1 , I loose, you have to know I was an arborist for 20 years and I would do most anything to keep a healthy tree alive.Still feel that way.
Me too.

I think of all the trees I got to specify and also plant in the landscape industry and feel like I contributed something nice to the environment in the process. I too hate to have to see a tree go and especially when it was just planted wrong and not pruned to help it along. I just moved from one of America's first urban forest communities and now live off Lincoln Park so trees are a big deal. Beetles have gotten a lot in the park.

You will note I suggested pruning the tree the topic of this post and trying to move it if budget would allow. I think it could be saved. The problem is going to be getting to the back side of the root ball with it so close to the house. I don't think where it is there is a way to anchor and pull it upright. Even a twin stake system will not be strong enough. And moving a tree even of that vintage is not going to be an inexpensive proposition unless there is an arborist or landscaper available to help out.

Lessons to be learned by this poor little birch tree?

Always plant trees for what they will grow to be and not the scrawny little things they are often when you get them. It may look goofy to have a small 1" caliper tree trunk 24 feet from the house but you will be grateful later.

Know what species can coexist close to the house with its foundation.

In California when planting trees the industry standard was to put at least one stake of appropriate caliper next to trees and to use flexible tree ties to give them a good straight start. Arborists tend not to like the practice here for some reason. Maybe they feel the ball and burlap planting base is enough of an anchor and trees do tend to be older when planted here. In California we planted very little ball and burlap. Everything was grown in successively larger containers.

Pruning is important for healthy trees and from day one of planting. It is one of the nicest things you can do for your trees. They cannot do it for themselves. Some clients looked on in shock as I pruned away growth of their new bought trees but by cutting back top growth I encouraged roots and by getting rid cross over branches, water shoots, and other structurally unhealthy situations when I could with hand pruners I saved them some massive tree surgery bills later on.
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Old 08-26-2012, 07:57 AM   #13
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


The only thing you can do now, is either move it, plant it straight, stake it to hold straight for a year. Otherwise if you wish to keep near the house for a few years, you will have to dig around it to pull it back straight, then fill while having stakes pulling it straight while backfilling.
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Old 08-26-2012, 07:43 PM   #14
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


Looking at the photos, it doesn't seem that that birch was purposely planted there, judging by the way the rest of the landscaping is arranged. Maybe one owner got behind on the weeding and didn't mind the pretty new tree?

Something to keep in mind is that birches are hardly exotic trees in N. America. It might be most expedient to remove this particular tree, but that doesn't mean you can't also take the time to explore your property and see if you can incorporate another tree (maybe of a different species) in a more appropriate location.

Sdester's advice is excellent. You may look at a tiny potted tree and think you can put it anywhere, but you always have to think about the potential full size of the adult tree.

I have an old mimosa (a.k.a. silk tree) in my back yard. It is 50 ft tall and about the same dimension across it's spread. It is a beautiful tree, but it was originally planted near the back property line, and it got crowded out by the forest trees on that boundary. Its trunk had to angle over about 45 degrees to get sunlight, and this has caused a lot of limb stress during winter storms, so this tree has taken a lot of damage over the last few years. Its days are numbered. A few years ago I started a new seed and now have a mimosa sapling that is a few feet tall, and I intend to keep growing it until the parent tree dies. When it dies, I am going to pull it out, regrade the back yard, and plant this young tree in the center of my backyard where it will have 50+ ft in all directions to grow.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:10 PM   #15
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Leaning birch tree (w/ photos)


I love birch trees. River Birch trees are native in this region, but they need room to spread. They are generally more beautiful planted in clumps. Yours does not look like the white paper birch rather like the Gray Birch Betula populifolia.

While I do not like removing trees either, this tree looks weak at the base and I think I see faint scars from a weed eater (I can't really tell). Also, there is new growth at the base for the second trunk (they tend to grow multi-trunked). That growth is in the direction of the house. As it gets bigger, it may balance the tree but it will damage the house by being too close. If you cut that off, it weakens the tree more because a multi-trunked tree should not be pruned to a single trunk (in general).

If you want to save it, wait until it goes dormant for the winter (before the ground freezes). Dig a deep trench around the trunk the width of the branches. Carefully work as many larger roots into the ball. Heel it in with soil, mulch, and pine straw and wrap it in burlap.

It's a crap shoot but it might survive. I've transplanted many birches down here using that method but it is backbreaking digging by hand and River Birches are really hardy. I've done it with a couple of Japanese Maples too but they are more sensitive and need larger root balls.

If you don't want to dig it by hand, I wouldn't waste the money on a tree baller (extractor). I would scrap it and get another tree in a more appropriate location next season.

Good luck.

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