Oak tree defoliant

kinxmaigh(z5-9)April 25, 2011

Glad to see this forum thriving. I haven't posted on here since I bought my Danby, which continues to be a great washer.

Now I have a question about thinning an oak tree. I searched for answers here but only found arguments about the ethics and advisability of killing trees - I just want to clear its canopy a bit.

This tree is handsome and very old, but has really challenged my gardening in years past (as well as provided a home for most of the zip code's squirrels...grr...I'm all for nature when there are natural predators). It occurred to me that I could lighten its very dense canopy, which is just starting to leaf out. Some kind of defoliant could be used discreetly, just sprayed up into it.

Some web research says vinegar and salt, which make sense, would kill leaves they land on. Oil helps these stick and work. These are all locally toxic; anything else that would work is probably much worse for water table. Just put some on a hose sprayer for some dilution and jet away no? After of course covering most of my yard. Has anyone had experience with these or other defoliants?

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famartin(z5 NE NV)

I would think that any sort of defoliant would stress the tree significantly, not unlike what gypsy moths do to the tree. And the leaves will grow back until the tree is simply weakened, at which point you are risking its death and subsequent removal.

I have to think the only sensible thing to do would be to have a certified arborist do a good thinning. I wouldn't trust anyone other than a certified arborist because this sort of thing requires real skill, unless you want an ugly, deformed tree as the result. Make sure you stress that you just want the crown thinned, not topped. You DON'T want them to leave stubs etc. You'll probably need to research a good arborist in your area to make sure they know what they are doing. And be mindful of course that at some point it will need to be done again. This will likely be rather expensive.

If you really hate the shade... get rid of the tree.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:54PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Uphill battle. Trees want to be dominate, have as many leaves as possible. You are fighting that.

The thing to do, and it partially worked on a Pin Oak at my sister's place, limb the fella up and have any other poorly attached or crosswise branches removed.

You will get more light in under the tree. You will remove any rubbing branches or branches with poor crotch angles. Hire a good company, find ISA certifications or whatever, do not get the lowest bidder. The cheapest guy may know the least. You want to remove some branches and not stave the tree to death. That will cost you more in the long run.

Just spraying some poison up into the tree is too risky. I deleted a previous term. Ok fine, I don't want to mince words, it is for idiots. Ban them web pages which recommend that from your computer. Imagine a few dozen dead limbs up in the tree, yup, thats what limbs with no leaves are. They will rot off and fall on you or your kids.

As far as experience with defoliants, the United States military has lots of experience. Don't fool around trying to be cheap with chemicals. Ppl spend their lives studying these things and get it wrong.

Don't go cheap, just have the fella limbed up and any other poorly structured branches removed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nice picture of defoliant results on Wikipedia

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Personally I think people who do things like that to a healthy beautiful tree should be shot!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 5:13AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Depending on where the tree is compared to the garden, raising the canopy a bit might help and wouldn't kill the tree. A well-qualified, ISA certified arborists would need to do that. If that wouldn't help solve the light problem (it's not going to solve the squirrel problem), a decision needs to be made as whether to keep the tree or remove it. Defoliating the tree is NOT THE SOLUTION!!!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 11:26AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

this is a late april fool day post.. right????

or is this spam for a danby washer ..???


    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 12:49PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I totally agree that you simply cannot use a product, even vinegar, to defoliate 'some' of the leaves! You have some decisions to make. Are you going to spend some money and hire a trained, educated ISA Certified arborist to do some careful pruning? Or are you going to locate your gardening efforts to other locations on the property? Or are you going to get rid of the tree altogether? By the way, "handsome" and "very old" are tree adjectives that mean big bucks in property values.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 12:54PM
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Unless your trying food crops that need sun, there are many shade plants that are beautiful. Is your yard that small you can't garden elsewhere? The tree probably makes summers a whole lot cooler in your yard, I can,t wait for mine to grow and get huge. Thinning is the way to go, by someone who knows the right way.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 3:39AM
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