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a query about leaning trees

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a query about leaning trees

Postby Eisenstein » Apr 16, 2008 9:33 pm

I have 2 plum trees, about 12 feet tall, and they have a severe lean to them. I just bought the house. The previous owner has them tied to a sturdy maple with yellow rope.

I was wondering if there was a more sightly way to stabilize these trees. I tried to post a link to a photo, but the site won't let me yet.
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Postby Eeyore » Apr 16, 2008 11:52 pm

Below is a fact sheet showing the proper way to stake a tree. You will probably want to use one of the methods shown until the tree is pulled upright and able to withstand the wind without bending.

http://extension.usu.edu/forestry/HomeT ... eTrees.htm

edited to add the link.... :oops:
Lyn
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“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” ` James Arthur Baldwin"
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Postby (old_user)Nancy S in Winnipeg » Apr 17, 2008 1:29 pm

Ah! The Amazing Galactic Super String!
That was all that was holding up the fence in my back yard when I moved in. New fence, no string.

I don't really have an answer, you really have to assess safety and health of the tree on an individual basis. Is it a danger to property or person?

I was told that a tree that leans may to be corrected (at least a little)while it is still flexible. Would you be able to stake it so that it could be gently pulled more upright?

On an episode of This Old House, Roger built a crutch(?) for an old apple tree - basically a resting platform on top of a support. Is this a possible solution?
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Postby Eeyore » Apr 17, 2008 10:05 pm

Eisenstein's trees - do you think they can be saved?

Are these the only plum trees on the property? I'm torn here. If they are the only plums then it's probably worth it to try and save them. Unfortunately I don't think they can be straightened unless you dig up the root ball and replace them straight into the planting holes and then stake them properly. To me they look like they were planted crooked.... :?
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Alex's trees.jpg
Lyn
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trees

Postby Eisenstein » Apr 18, 2008 1:17 am

I have 2 other plum trees elsewhere. The thicket in the background represents my neighbour's lilacs.

Thanks for posting the picture, Lyn.
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Postby Katherine » Apr 18, 2008 11:52 am

Lyn emailed me and asked me to comment on this.

Trees that are leaning like that when they have stems and roots so close to other larger trees are very common in nature, and they simply spend thier whole lives trying to grow out from underneath larger trees. I could post a few examples in my own garden, I have a butterfly bush trying desparately to get out from under a cedar tree. And there are lots of good reasons why this happens.

If the leaning trees are otherwise healthy and have a good set of normal looking buds and no other pathology, they can be made to grow more upright, but you have a very simple problem. The larger maple and two smaller plums have been in the same location for at least 5 or so years or more, possibly? There appears to be a lot of root competition and crown competition as well, and the maple being the larger of the three is winning the competition.

They were planted far too close together and getting them apart without destroying the roots is going to be tough. When you have a small tree planted to close it will lean outwards, and the attempt to pull it back with ropes are likely being opposed by the plum trees, they are really trying hard to get out from under that maple!

You could take drastic action and cut down the maple, then the plums will start to right themselves a bit. THere is quite thick line of dense brush, there though, too, so there is not just the maple. THere is a reason why you see fruit trees planted in rows with seperation between each tree, its not just for the machinery to get between the rows. Fruit trees need lots of root and crown space.

You could very carefully try to seperate the root balls of the three trees, but that would be hard to do...

Or you could prune back the crown of the maple. However, what I really suggest you do, as long as all the trees have healthy buds, and good growth, simply try to get used to the curved growth of the plum trees, do some pruning to enhance the appearance a bit, or if you have an opening somewhere and enough space consider planting another plum in a big space, if you really are fond of upright tree growth.

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Gotcha

Postby Eisenstein » Apr 19, 2008 1:47 am

Thank you immensely. A large appreciative nod to Lyn too.

I don't mind a good lean at all. In fact I think I rather like a good lean.......I just thought that the previous owners ropes were indicative of "plum trees falling over". I think my plan is to take the silly ropes off and perhaps prune with an eye towards the sun's ways, and how weight distribution effects the lean. Is that an alright approach?

My lord, you folks are a remarkable resource. Once again, thank you.
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Postby Paul zone5 » Apr 19, 2008 6:58 am

Katherine was right. No matter how you stake the tree or shift the root ball, the plum trees will always grow toward the light. Since they are staked to the maple, I assume that they are quite close to the maple and are being shaded.
Just north of Toronto
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Postby Eeyore » Apr 19, 2008 12:41 pm

I'd take the ropes off and go ahead with the pruning. The maple is always going to win the battle for the sun. The plums may produce fruit on only one side of the tree but I wouldn't be too concerned about it. They aren't going to fall over.
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