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Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major break

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:25 pm
by dtaylor
I have a awesome tree in my back yard. This Oak measures over 19 feet in dia at chest height. I thought the tree was in great shape till Sunday. I had a major limb break. That also broke another limb under it. When I say limb were talking about 2 foot wide. I've had a couple Arborist look at the tree. I'm getting mixed suggestions about what I should do. A couple say to cut the tree down. And some say remove the broken limbs and limb the tree up and see if it heals. How does a home owner know what to do? I really love this tree and it's the biggest in the area. And Idea's what I should do?

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:28 am
by Joe
dtaylor wrote:I have a awesome tree in my back yard. This Oak measures over 19 feet in dia at chest height. I thought the tree was in great shape till Sunday. I had a major limb break. That also broke another limb under it. When I say limb were talking about 2 foot wide. I've had a couple Arborist look at the tree. I'm getting mixed suggestions about what I should do. A couple say to cut the tree down. And some say remove the broken limbs and limb the tree up and see if it heals. How does a home owner know what to do? I really love this tree and it's the biggest in the area. And Idea's what I should do?
I'm a forester, not an arborist, but I should think an arborist could clean up the tree- remove the damaged limb(s) and while at it-- do some more prunning and maybe add some nutrients to the soil. It won't be cheap- but if you love the tree, it'll be worth it. And doing that work will be far cheaper than dropping the tree.
Joe

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:49 am
by pattyjenkins1
I'm not an arborist either, but my husband Peter is a certified arborist; he's been working in Atlanta's trees for 30 years. Atlanta has literally thousands of overmature water oaks. They were planted along city streets years ago, and now many of them are having to be taken down.

This is what Peter says:

Your tree is overmature. Water oaks grow very very fast, become massive like yours, and then start falling apart because they can't support their own weight. This is what appears is going on with your tree. Get a certified arborist to inspect it and have that person do a Resistograph test. A Resistograph is a machine that uses a12"-18" long, 1/8" wide drill bit to drill around the base of the tree or near the split section; it is powered by a gear. The resistance to the drill is documented by the machine on a wax strip that looks like an EKG. A formula is then used to determine how much wood is holding up the tree. This test is minimally invasive, and worth its weight in gold in telling you how solid (or hollow) the trunk is, and will usually tell you whether the tree needs to be taken down or not.

Fertilizing an old or overmature tree is, in Peter's opinion, not a good idea. It's like giving a 97 year old person a huge dose of steroids. A growth stimulant is not recommended for an overmature tree. If the tree's roots are under alot of cement, a dose of mycorhizzae (a natural fertilizer) might be okay; but if the tree is in natural conditions, mycorhizzae is probably not warranted. The leaf litter fertilizes the tree and there's been plenty of rain. Fertilizing trees is a very high profit business in the wrong hands, and people often get taken in by unscrupulous operators.

The bottom line: Don't use chemicals, get the tree inspected, and then decide what to do. If the tree is worth saving, clean up the break wound so the tree can heal itself, and get the tree limbed up.

Joe, no disrespect intended!

patty and peter jenkins

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:38 am
by Will Blozan
I HATE the word over-mature...

Anyway, a system of dynamic support cables could extend the life of this tree if all else is well.

Be sure to contact a certified arborist skilled in mature tree care and bracing systems. Check the ISA website to find an arborist near you.

19' in girth, not diameter ;)

Will

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:46 am
by Rand
I was squinting at your picture and wondered if the limb base was decayed or did it split along a plane of embedded bark?

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:31 pm
by dtaylor
Rand wrote:I was squinting at your picture and wondered if the limb base was decayed or did it split along a plane of embedded bark?

The branch had embedded bark where it broke. About halfway thru the joint.

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:30 am
by guymeilleur
The tree simply needed its sprawling branches reduced and/or cabled.

'Limbing up' can be worse for an old tree than topping.

Drilling to measure shell wall thickness is a fear tactic based on pseudoscience.

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 11:17 am
by Don
I'm not an arborist, just a lowly forester. But I am familiar with a non-invasive means of determining soundness of a tree's bole. Sound receptors are placed around the girth of the tree, and record electronic sound pulses. The output can be numbers, but the most useful report is the graphic which densities are classified into color zones, indicating sound and where present, not-so-sound regions.
It's not a device an individual could afford, but in our community (Anchorage AK), one is available from either a state or federal agency. They take about 15 minutes to set up. There may such devices in your area, perhaps through Forest Extension?

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 12:11 pm
by Joe
Don wrote:I'm not an arborist, just a lowly forester. But I am familiar with a non-invasive means of determining soundness of a tree's bole. Sound receptors are placed around the girth of the tree, and record electronic sound pulses. The output can be numbers, but the most useful report is the graphic which densities are classified into color zones, indicating sound and where present, not-so-sound regions.
It's not a device an individual could afford, but in our community (Anchorage AK), one is available from either a state or federal agency. They take about 15 minutes to set up. There may such devices in your area, perhaps through Forest Extension?
I give the tree a whack with my wooden diameter caliper- if it's not sound, it sounds different compared to if it's sound.

I use simple techniques, such as measuring tree heights by counting how many thumbs tall it is.

As Thoreau said, "simplify, simplify".
Joe

Re: Tree advice needed for very large Water Oak with major b

Posted: Fri May 02, 2014 9:27 pm
by guymeilleur
Joe's sounding is good, but limited--what do you do with an 'unsound-sounding" tree? Don's tomograph is excellent--good for AK if they use them on private trees--I think... but very hard to interpret (4 yrs experience here). Those graphics can be skewed here and there--ever hear of the Anne Frank Tree?
I apologize for implying that drilling is always an intentional fear tactic. Read the June 2014 Arborist News for an example of (what I consider to be) proper use, by the manufacturer.

It is, however, always based on pseudoscience. The data behind the formulae are really weak; over 30" dbh it's all a SWAG. Trees are not pipes; they stand on buttresses, not on heartwood, so measuring heartwood loss is beside the point of stability and risk. Like the term 'overmature', measuring heartwood loss is a paradigmatic relic of arboriculture's forestry heritage.

Just one guy's view though.