Keep or Replace These Trees

drrich2(6)March 25, 2012


Wife & I moved into our home on a 1.4 acre lot Feb. 2011. Got some trees already on the lot. Some aren't in the best condition & I'm considering replacing. We're zone 6b, southwestern KY, clay soil, down slope on a hill, & in spring & fall rainy weathers can leave our backyard saturated for a few days, while summer can be hot & sunny with temp.s to 100 degrees & it may not rain a few weeks sometimes.

My biggest question concerns a nearly 15' Yellow Poplar/Tulip Poplar - Liriodendron tulipifera. Trunk widens maybe a bit at the base, but definitely not seeing the tops of roots, & water pools around the base so it can be sitting in a shallow mudhole a couple of days running after it's been rainy. Don't know what injured it, but close to half the trunk got seriously damaged, though calus formation shows it's recovering. Damage is on side facing the house, which is ugly (the trunk, not our house), and it hasn't many limbs on the damaged side.

Last year it leafed out, but suckers started coming off the bottom. This year, another Yellow Poplar elsewhere on the property is leaving out nicely; this one isn't so far, but it may be early. The suckers look alive; the main trunk/tree is 'iffy.'

Is this tree likely to survive here? Is the trunk going to be permanently ugly/disfigured? Will all that heartwood exposed mean permanent weakening? (It's not real close to the house, but we live in an area that gets some strong winds at times).

I would consider replacing it with something else; considering:

1.) Black Gum (slow growth not so appealing).

2.) Pecan Tree (for nuts to draw squirrels to entertain our dogs).

For the other trees, I think I'll make another thread or two, so this topic doesn't get lose in the shuffle. But there's a common theme of trees with heavy trunk damage, and whether they should be replaced (if the tree is in the 8 to 15 foot tall range).


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Oh, since the question is pretty much the same, I'm also asking about a small Crimson King Norway Maple maybe 8' tall, out front where the soil is less water saturated I think, that's got healing trunk damage, but is still alive and will live likely if left alone.

I know there are invasive species concerns with Norway Maples and it's not the plant I would've chosen, but Crimson Kings can be quite attractive.

Again, main question is long term strength & aesthetics of the tree; will the trunk look awful for the next 20 years?


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 7:37PM
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If I had the money and time, moving to a new place I would stay for a several years, I would not hesitate to replace those pronto. The hardest part would be making the new selections.

I would do the blackgum in the front and the pecan in the back limited to those two choices (which are actually pretty good)


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 7:55PM
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Thanks, John. It occurred to me a look at the property might be helpful. For example, behind the Crimson King, that's an external building, not our house.

Here is a pic taken of a picture we bought, taken of our place by a service that photographed the neighborhood from a plane, & went door-to-door offering to sell us framed photos. We bought one. I've added some names; in all cases, the name appears immediately right of the tree. Some, like the 2 paperbark maples, aren't large enough to see here. Our property lines extends about 3 feet past the 6' black chain link fence behind & to the left, but a few years beyond the big metal storage building to the right.

Since this pic, I've planted 3 dwarf plum trees & we've got a 'Belle of Georgia' peach tree on the way.

The ? sugar maple I'm considering getting rid of is the small one in the backyard.

Abbreviations used in pic:

? Bush - I think it's a sucker cluster from a cut down tree, old trunk was about as big around as my forearm. Whatever it is, Japanese beetles like to eat it.

Bloodgood JM - Bloodgood Japanese Maple.

BFC - Boulevard False Cypress.

BBCS - Baby Blue Eyes Colorado Spruce (chosen for modest adult size).

CBJM - Sango Kaku Japanese Maple (small; not the one I discussed in another thread, not on this property).


P.S.: I'm not the one who planted the callery pear tree.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 8:59PM
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Minor Addition: Behind the left Pin Oak, and back a bit, that yellowish bit immediately left & about half-way up it, is a roughly 6 - 7 foot Hanoki False Cypress tree. It's quite a ways behind the Pin Oak. That small tree to the right of the metal storage building is some sort of holly tree.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:01PM
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Richard, as with the sugar maple, those are some badly dinged up trees! I guess you know that. The wounds, should the tree(s) go on living, will eventually be concealed inside subsequent layers of new wood. It is conceivable that given enough time, they would not be visible at all. But.......and there's always a 'but'....all three appear to be in really tough shape. I see plenty of buds on the two maples, but their form and structural integrity is compromised. I'm thinking I'd remove all three and get something going better, and planted better!


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:45PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Neat place and a cool pic.

What is happening to the trunks on them trees? The Crimson king might pull through. Any evidence of encapsulation?

The Lirondren grows so fast when healthy up here I dunno if I would risk it. You said you have suckers? I would be curious the opinion of others concerning leaving one sucker to grow into a tree.

Pecan is a nice classy choice for a big property like yours. Do you need two for pollination?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:52PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

What about a Shellbark Hickory where the Tulip Tree is?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 10:40PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i gave you my thoughts about the water situation in the other post.. a couple days is not a MAJOR concern.. IMHO ...

you have enough good trees..sooooo


its just that simple ...


    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:19AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

I agree with Ken. Most trees a couple days don't matter too much (there are exceptions). Plant replacements high, and smaller is better. We have wet clay as well, and have had excellent results planting everything 1/2-1/3 of the root ball ABOVE grade, with the fill soil mounded up from the surrounding grade, to meet the grade of the root ball. Bee sure that the root flare is exposed first however. Also IMHO, all those trees you show, need to go and start if $$$ permits. Probable no larger than 1" caliper since the soil tend to be wet.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:28AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I would replace them both. It will take a few years at least for the wounds to be encapsulated, and the (currently) exposed wood will likely have begun rotting by then. I'd hate to live with a tree that grows as fast and tall as a tulip poplar, always wondering if it had a rotten core. I really doubt the norway maple will ever close those wounds.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 12:44PM
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