soil after tree removal

tifbee(7)January 26, 2010

I have a double oak in my front yard that is being removed next week. The previous owners planted it or laid the driveway within two feet of each other, so I need to remove before it creates too much damage to the driveway. I am wanting to plant a flower garden (bulbs, knockout roses, herbs) in it's place, what do I need to do with the soil to prepare for planting? Do I just add some mulch and compost and give it a year to rest? Or do I add some garden or top soil so I can plant this year?

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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

How big a tree are we talking about?

Are you having the stump ground down to remove it?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 12:19PM
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It is a older oak, about 8-10 feet around and branches into two trees, extends up about 60-70 feet. I'm actually not sure if he is going to grind the stump or not. Due to significant and large exposed roots they might just pull out the trunk.
I have a stump grinder guy coming out in the spring, so if the tree service doesn't do it, then it will happen in spring with the rest.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 2:23PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

That sounds like 3 ft. in diameter! Big tree. Boy would I love to get my hands on that and haul it to the sawmill.

Anyway, as far as the soil, I don't think there is anything much to worry about with the soil. Compost and mulch would do fine. You can rest it a year or not, up to you. What I was getting at was the stump and roots. Unless it's already half rotten, it's going to be there a LONG time, so grinding it down is the answer. Or, cut flush with the ground and construct a raised bed over it. If you grind it, remove the chips and fill with soil, so they don't deplete nitrogen.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 3:48PM
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toxcrusader has a point about the value of the tree as lumber. I would see if there is a wood working club in you area that can take the tree and saw it up for lumber. Even the stump has value especially to a wood turner. See if the wood can be put to better use than firewoood.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 4:45PM
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We've done this a number of times after removing large oak and cherry trees, and I agree with toxcrusader. Even after having the stump ground, there will be a LOT of oak root left underground which will decay over the years. That will make it difficult to plant anything exactly where the tree was unless you create a raised garden. You probably need to remove the chips, replace with compost and perhaps topsoil, mulch over the area, and go with a container for the stump area, with some flowers planted around where the ground can be dug. It's not a situation which will be "fixed" in a year if the tree was that large.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 5:17PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

It does seem a pity to destroy an oak of that size and age, along with its attendant wildlife. To me it's backwards thinking to preserve a strip of tarmac over a large mature tree. Is there no possibility of altering or diverting the driveway?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 6:21AM
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Steven Laurin & Company

flora - I totally agree with your philosophy and it's unfortunate that most people in this world do not share your level of sensitivity. With the exception of areas regulated by forest conservation and community tree preservation groups, most of our ancient trees have been harvested and destroyed - due to greed and ignorance.

If at all possible and unless the tree is close enough to the house to cause liability issues due to potential damage to structures, I suggest moving the asphalt driveway and locating the garden elsewhere.

When will we learn?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 8:58AM
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Thanks for all the responses. I am giving some of the wood to my parents for the wood stove as it is their only heat source. But I am keeping most of it to use around the yard for projects like rustic benches, log fence, balance beam (dig a trench and roll it in) for the kids to play on, and other projects.

flora_uk: The problem isn't just with its location to the drive way, it is a white oak and has developed a fungus that is typical for the tree. Most of the tree is consummed with it. I've been living in the house for a year and the previous owners didn't do anything to get rid of the fungus. I would love to keep the tree but I don't want it affecting the other trees. I believe this is forward thinking. The fact that it is next to the driveway is just an additional reason for removal.

archdiver: Thank you for your response. I'm not wanting to get rid of the tree so I can plant something else, the tree is a safety issue for my home as well as the other oaks in the neighborhood. As I already stated, the preious owners didn't not care for the property and as a result the erosion around this tree has all the large roots fully exposed and causing decay around the base. Along with the white oak fungus, this thing will topple over when ever it chooses. I'd rather choose that time then fall on my house, car, family, or neighbors.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 10:44AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I see. As you didn't mention the disease or danger in the original post it appeared that the driveway was the main issue.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 10:59AM
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To those who think I am removing this tree for the wrong reasons, I live on an acre of property and I am the only house in the neighborhood who still has a woodland back yard, which I plan to keep. Most of my front yard also is full of dogwoods, oaks, pine, sweetgums, maple spruce, and cypresses. I just planted 15 more trees around the property to help stabilize the hill I live on as well as the storm water drain in the back yard. I have birds, squirrels, butterflies, and humming birds that are welcomed on my property. Making a decision to remove a tree is not easy for me, but it is one that had to be made due to the neglect of other home owners. I am trying to preserve and rebuild the property, not tear it down. My goal is to fix the issue with another habitat area which will include sassafras, flowering herbs, grasses, and a hydrangea, this will all benefit the current wildlife.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 10:59AM
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terrene(5b MA)

The previous owner removed a number of large trees in the front yard 2 years before I moved in, including 2 large oaks. How do I know they were oaks? Because I encountered the ground stumps and roots while digging a large front garden. They were ground down about 3-4 inches below the soil surface.

At first I tried to grow things over these stumps, but plantings invariably failed. I dug all around one of them, tried to use a sawzall and maul, tried to drill holes, etc to chip away at the stump and roots. To no avail. I finally gave up, covered over the stump, and put a path and bird bath on top. And planted the bulbs, perennials, etc. around the roots. 8-/

9 years after those trees were removed, the roots and stumps have barely rotted. I think it will take 20 years for the remains of those Oak trees to decompose.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 8:27PM
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ninjabut(USDA z 8,CA)

Tifbee, My condolences on the loss of your tree!
I just lost my massive old Chinese elm tree to Dutch elm disease last summer! They were supposed to be resistant to DED! But, not immune, apparently!
It was pretty expensive to have the tree cut down, but, as I recall, only $2-$300 to have the stump ground. Along with the stump, it pretty much tilled up the ground around it and seemed like OK soil. I planted grass around the area (it messed up my whole lawn also!), but too late in the season to see if it would sprout. It seems to be sprouting fine now.
The tree guy said to just go ahead and plant whatever I wanted there.
I suggest spending the extra few hundred $ to have the stump ground. Nancy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 9:08PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

We've had to have several trees removed from our current property for on reason or another. I would definitely have the stumps removed but I would call around. We usually get ours done for about $50 a piece. Make sure they go down pretty far - insist on it.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 7:16AM
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The answer depends in part on the current conditions of the soil and what your intended new plants prefer. I don't see how compost could do any harm.
Aside from that, the stump and roots are your big problem as discussed in the responses above. My first thought is that sometimes stumps don't completely die right away even when the tree was sick so you might even want to make sure you finish it off with a little herbicide right after the tree crew is done (I did this with two Ailanthus trees which have to be poisoned to insure death. Fortunately, Ailanthus rots much quicker than Oak). I would go with grinding out as much as you can. One hour with a grinder is worth years of natural decay. There are also various products that increase the rotting of the stump and others that burn the stump. You can also do some things without fancy products to speed up the decay like drilling holes and packing in high nitrogen manure or fertilizer. Hack up the big exposed roots as best you can also. Also, A little work with a mattock to hack up all the little feeder roots might also make your eventual new planting easier. I think that whatever route you take it will be a while before it is all gone but there are faster ways and slower ways depending on time, energy and budget. Be mindful over the years that if there are big roots under the asphalt it is possible that part of the driveway will sink in a bit at some point when the roots finally rot away but if it's just asphalt without concrete underneath that's easily fixed. I'm attaching a link to one online article about stump removal.

Here is a link that might be useful: stump removal without grinding

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 8:22PM
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HELP???this is somewhat related to this post. We had a water oak removed about 3 months ago and the stump was ground up about 10" below grade. Now I want to put a seating area in that space. However I need to remove the remains of the grinding. Now it's been a few months and it is meshed together for lack of a better way to explain it. The ground feels so spongy and I know if needs to be removed so I can put in fill dirt then I was thinking of putting crushed limestone and leave alone like that for a couple of years before adding pavers in the area so I can wait for mor e sinking. If anyone has any other ideas of how to build the seating area I would welcome any thoughts and be so thankful. But the main question is how to dig out those remains from the grinding. it's so hard to break through. It's like digging through would mulch....

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:42PM
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