How to kill a tree, FAST!

mailman22(6)June 12, 2008

I want to kill a tree. Forgive me for doing so, but this tree is very much unwanted. Shades half my garden. Here's the kicker, it's HUGE! A big ole oak that I can't cut down. My chainsaw is too small, and I own a big Stihl.

So. I have heard about girdling? Is that spelled right?

A process that when you cut into the tree an inch or so and remove about a 3" collar of bark, that it will essentially kill it. My question is, how fast? Will the leaves that are on it now wither and fall off in days , weeks, or stay on till winter?

Any other quicker methods?

And, before anyone doubts, or questions if the tree is mine, it is. Nothing underhanded going on here.


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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Cutting a strip (1" for that matter) out of the cambium (not just the bark) will kill the tree very quickly. Waiting for the leaves to fall off will take a while.

The question here though is what are you going to do once the tree starts falling apart? It will still need to be removed! It almost always costs more to remove a decaying tree than it does a live one. Seems like you are shooting yourself in the foot here.

Also, isn't there somewhere else you could put your garden. Seems a real shame to remove an oak that big just for your garden. Once again, to me, it seems you are shooting yourself in the foot here.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:17PM
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Tons of big oaks here. I have at least 10 on 2 acres that go at least 20" to 24" diameter. Thats NOT circumference. I don't care what happens when it falls apart. As it drops limbs, I burn them. Can't move garden. It won't need to be removed. I just want the leaves to not come back.
I want the sun to get through. Vegetables are worth much more to me than the oak and it's frickin' leaves.

By the way, even the biggest tree hugger cant get around this one. Let me be clear, I don't want to kill this tree, I need to.
Brandon, no disrespect, but what does size matter? As I stated, there are hundreds of these trees in a short distance of each other. No shame here.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:42PM
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Was not the tree there before the garden? Oaks do not grow fast enough to suddenly go "Surpise! I now am giving you shade."

If the tree is healthy and no danger to life, than adjust the garden rather than kill the tree.

There should be some shade thiving garden items which will prosper under the shade of that tree.

I know, because as a kid I saw my mother gowing a huge garden in which the biggest pear tree I have ever seen grew in the middle. She harvest abundandly from that garden, and the different food she grew not only grew in full sun, but there were also food items she grew which prospered under the shade of the pear tree.

She sometimes would repeat to me her story of when there was a time, early on, when she also hated that a pear tree, which seemed to rob part of her garden from full sun, so she decided to try and kill it by throwing, under its canopy and on its rootflare, any of the waste water she could collect from the house. The tree never died though, instead it grew larger, healthier, and started producing the best pears ever.

That is when she changed her mind and opened her imagination to discover garden food which would grow in the shade under that tree.

The soil in her garden where the infamous pear tree grew consisted of huge amounts of sand. It was the same sandy loam type soil (situated nextdoor to her garden) in which was perfect for my dad to grow 10 acres filled with different types of cantaloupe and watermellons.

True an oak tree will not provide lots of wonderful fruit, but, still it must be much more sane and lot less work to adjust the garden, rather than destroy that majestic old tree. For all you know the fertile quality of the topsoil created by the natural life cycle of that tree is most likely the very thing which has made your garden soil so full of nutrient rich humus which probably is a big asset for conditioning the soil for certain garden items to prosper.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:51PM
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Only a callous unthinking cruel Nature-disrespecting MONSTER would kill a healthy old tree. It is so hard to establish a tree and the decades of favorable circumstances it takes to grow a tree CANNOT be replicated in your lifetime. You deprive your property, your neighborhood, your community, all future owners and neighbors, and wildlife, of an increasingly rare incredibly valuable miracle of life and beauty, shade, air cleansing and food.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 4:04PM
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Hello Mailman,

I assume you have plenty of room to drop it if cut down.
Get the word out to someone who has a big saw and needs fire wood.
I had this problem with a very large oak I was trying to cut down,make your notch cut so your tree will fall were you want it,then on the opposite side make another notch high enough to fit you saw into,it may take a while but you should be able to bring it down.
Also be extra carefull because you can't use wedges this way.
If the tree has a strait trunk it may be worth something for lumber?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 4:06PM
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Sympathizing with mailman for a minute, and knowing that most responders are going to give similar responses as the previous posters, I'm going to assume you do have some respect for the oak, as you state you have many others, which is wonderful, you just want a little sun back too, to have it all.

Call a tree guy and just have it taken down. Bite the bullet on cost. Do the right way, and end it's life quickly, instead of a slow death, distressing to everyone, and posing a danger as well. Use it's wood for burning, or give it away. You can also donate it to a carver who I'm sure would love to have it for making furniture, etc.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 4:16PM
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Chopped up Oak leaves and chipped oak branches are the most valuable assets when it comes to composting bulk needed to produce the kind of soil amendments and mulches that are more effective than fertilizer and more common mulches alone.

11 oak trees on a 2 acre piece of property could become a money generating venture, by using the oak litter to create compost and to offer the compost for sale either as an internet busisness or by shipping it to cities for suppliers.

There are many people who live in houses that are built on lots where the virgin soil is clay, and it is easier for them to make lasagnia gardens then try to reconditon the virgin soil only. Well you might not know it, but whole and chopped up oak leaves are some of the very best things to include when making a lasagnia garden.

Consider all the new housing additions in cities where builders scrape most of the good top soil off a lot before they build, and only spread 4 or less inches of sand on top of the hardpan once the house is built. The people who move into those houses quickly learn now devoid of any good soil their lot has even to grow basic landscaping.

Why do you think people who purchase such homes invest in installing landscape beds. Do not close your eyes to the value the oak litter on your property offers.

As a kid I grew-up with no appreciation for the value of the dirt I had to sweep away to keep the environment tidy. Or the water flowing from the brook nearby.

Back then who was right, me? No, now many people pay for bags of dirt which is no where close as fertile as the stuff I swept away and devalued. Today, people also pay extra for water in bottles that is not as beneficial for the body's needs as the water in the nearby brook, that very same water, which I held no awareness of its value.

Believe it or not; your oak leaves and shedding branches with their bark, can be a good source of revenue for you or some other enterprising person, who you might allow to come and harvest them from your lot.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 4:31PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


Back to your original question about the leaf you know what kind of oak it is? That will partially determine how long it will take to defoliate.

The lumber idea above might be a very good idea....I bet there are people that would remove it for you for the wood, especially if you could wait until they are in your area and had time.

BTW, for what it's worth, I don't agree with Cascadians' opinion above. I love trees. They are valuable resources, but they are not like holy cows or anything. Cutting one will not mean the end of the world.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Years earlier people lusted after the fertile rain forests' floors.

Crews with the equipment to began clearing the first plots used the excuse, "Why not harvest the trees? There is much need for the revenue to sell the wood, and much need for the cleared land for farming or living developments. After all there are thousands of miles of rain forests surely the what we take will not hurt."

90 percent of those statements and excuses they used were true. Only thing, they left out the part about a high percentage of the forest floors which were harvested turned into dessert.

If that is not bad enough, current total change impact from the total acivity which began only with one small harvesting; yet is still ongoing and it is no longer only a little part of the rain forest which were removed, has even changed the rain patterns of the area which were previously not considered deserts. Some of these areas which weren't even part of the rainforest floor are now becoming desserts because of the climate changes that have been cause due to the first rain forest excavation, which did not stop there, but has turned into a thriving business. Only it is a bad business, which destroys the the very things which are needed to supply the valuable products they seek.

A person who does not see value in oak leaves and bark or wood that a mature oak tree sheds, is very likely to whenever the whim arises, destroy the others if even if each time, just for the excuse and reasoning which says "who cares, I still will be left with more than just this one I am taking."

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 5:50PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


I kind of tend to agree somewhat with what you just posted and definitely understand your feelings, but to play devil's advocate.....

Do you use paper? Do you have a grass lawn? How about any wooden furniture? Do you drive a polluting vehicle instead of walking or biking? If so how can you be so certain that what Mailman wants to do is any worse than what you routinely do?

My point is that many here are judging Mailman pretty harshly without putting their selves in his shoes. I spend a lot of my time working to improve the environment. Heck, if I told you what I've done just today, you'd think I was some kind of environmental nutcase, but I digress. I'm a member of the Sierra club and the Nature Conservancy. I have my own arboretum and work on the board of directors of another arboretum. When I hear someone talking about cutting down a big healthy oak, I'm at least somewhat puzzled. Still, I can imagine some cases where I would remove such a tree. Taking one step toward a slippery slope doesn't mean you are bound to slide to the bottom of the hill!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 7:24PM
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The forest floors turned into dessert?!
Yummy! I love dessert!
Key Lime pie, Strawberry shortcake...

It IS mailman's property, and he has indicated that there are plenty more trees currently residing there. I'm an oak enthusiast, but if this one is in his way, and he desires that it no longer impede his gardening progress, then he's well within his rights to kill or remove it. It may seem a shame, but it's not the end of the world.

If you do choose to girdle this tree, you'd be well-advised to treat the exposed cambium layer at the lower edge of your girdling cut with a herbicide labeled for 'stump treatment', otherwise, the roots may remain alive and you'll be dealing with numerous stump sprouts.
I cut down &/or girdle & herbicide-treat, on a regular basis, trees in my pastures, at the edge of my woods, and yes, even in my established hardwood forest. Sometimes you have to eliminate undesirable &/or unmarketable trees in order to release more desirable seedlings and give them the opportunity to thrive.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:36PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

You have 2 acres. Can't you grow your vegetables in another area? That way if there is a smaller tree in the way your Stihl can cut through it. Plus the roots of the huge tree will be there for a LONG time so it won't be fun digging for veggies under its former canopy.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 11:10PM
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...And if you have ever tried to dig through oak tree roots it is certainly an adventure. We managed to break an ax trying to get through the roots of one that had been removed on a previous property.

Destroying a tree with that much history is hard to think about. My neighbors have a huge oak right in the middle of their back yard on a half acre lot and have a beautiful veggie garden every year.

This probably sounds weird but I home-school and we use the tree for a fun history lesson by taking turns making up stories about what historical events may have occurred while the tree was growing.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 12:24AM
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The oak probably adds 10 or 20 thousand dollars to his property value. Might be shading his house in the summer, saving AC electricity.

But he wants to cut it down for maybe 300 dollars worth of vegetables.

I think he works for the government.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 12:52AM
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terrene(5b MA)

"Only a callous unthinking cruel Nature-disrespecting MONSTER would kill a healthy old tree."

Not if the tree is Acer platanoides! What a scourge that tree is! Non-native, dense aggressive canopies, greedy allelopathic roots, and about a million seedlings sprouting everywhere.

I had two 50 year old Norway maples removed last November by a tree service, and had a buddy girdle two others for me last Spring. One of the girdled trees was completely topped - the other girdled tree did leaf out this Spring, although it is not as leafy or green as the one remaining healthy Norway maple (that one will probably be removed too). Girdling will kill the tree, but it is a slow death. Apparently, it takes a year or two for a girdled tree to completely die. Eventually there will be great wildlife benefit to a standing dead tree, as long as it's in a spot where there's no risk of it falling on anything.

While I am enjoying the new gardens where the sun didn't used to shine (which is nowhere under a large Norway), if these trees had been nice old native trees, I would not have removed them. Would have created woodland gardens instead.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 6:03AM
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aezarien , I have more than 2 acres. I stated how many large trees I have on just two of them. Most of my property is woods. The garden is where it is and has been for over 50 years. The man who built this house had it there and I agree with him that it is the ONLY place to put it, DUE to all the large oaks on my property.
vancleaveterry , if one tree added that much money to my property, I would sell right now. I would make a killing. And the new owner would probably cut them all down for firewood.
People, it's one oak, and it's an ugly one too. RELAX!
My gosh, it's a tree. I wish more people like you would speak up for all the aborted children in the world. THEN we might have a chance to really SAVE something .

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 6:35AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

At least around here, cleared property is usually worth more than wooded property. The cost of clearing is sometimes deducted from the property's cleared value when appraised. A large tree like this might raise property value if it was on a lot in a large city, but not in most rural areas with lots more trees.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:51AM
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Mailman - For what it is worth it wasn't a judgment as much as it was reflection and my response was not necessarily directed toward you. You've only received one inflammatory response. As much as you probably didn't want to hear them all of the other responses have been articulate and respectfully stated. Since it isn't the tree but the lack of sun that is a problem it is perfectly reasonable to suggest moving the garden given the complications of removing a huge tree. Why are you under the impression that everyone is all wound up?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:17AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I find I am on Mailman's side in this. As stated, he has a lot more oak trees on his property, he wants his garden there - vegetables or flowers, by the by? - and he doesn't want, for unstated reasons, which is his right, to move the garden.

I am with the group who say to take the tree down now, and not wait for it to need to come down in a hurry due to falling branches, which it may do if you girdle it. I might leave it as a tall - 8-10', up to 15-20' - stump, and let it rot naturally, maybe using it to grow vines up. Of course, this means foregoing most of the timber/firewood value, but it would seem that that isn't a factor in your thinking anyway. I WOULD follow Lucky P's suggestion and paint the edges of the stump, however tall you leave it, with a woody/brush killer herbicide, to limit the number of sprouts coming up from the roots.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 1:40PM
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treeguy123(AL 7b)

If there is another location for the garden it is good to switch the location every couple of years anyways because the soil becomes depleted and pests will grow in large numbers if the garden is left in the same place each year. I would much rather have a huge old oak over a little garden. Mailman22 said it's "HUGE!", so it's likely 100+ maybe 200+ years old. So I would think hard and think of all kinds of options before removing such a huge old tree that has lots of history and shade. Many people regret cutting a big tree after they see it gone forever. I would just think hard of every single option before cutting etc.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 2:25PM
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I know I wouldn't want to garden under a big dead oak tree. Foresters call the branches in dead trees 'widow makers' for a reason- have it safely removed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 4:47PM
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Mailman... I got the impression you were cutting down your biggest tree... a "HUGE" oak.

Unless it's in decline, or damaged, that's usually a mistake. A ten or twenty thousand dollar mistake.

You say it's ugly and maybe it is. If so have it cut down for lumber or firewood. Might find someone to do it for the wood.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:26PM
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Check at one of those equipment rental places,get yourself ONE BIG chainsaw!
problem solved.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 12:07AM
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Delibirately killing a healthy, mature, native oak...sacrilege!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 1:21AM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

got pics?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 2:44AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

The thing is you say its a big tree,and an oak so its been there a while. Just how big is it? Over here a tree of a certain size would be protected and trouble may well follow a felling. I just find it a bit sad seeing a big tree vanishing like that.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:20AM
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Thanks for those that helped me. Problem solved.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:31AM
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Oh, mailman22 - if only you had fibbed and told them it was a Bradford Pear or a Royal Paulownia - they'd have been only too glad to help you kill a tree!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 9:28PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

LOL. Sounds like mailman is angry enough to kill the tree himself. Relax mailman everyone has to give their opinion. Aferall you did post it in a forum.

I took down a Gigantic Maple but had to because the 25" diameter trunk was about 15 inches from my house.

I couldn't figure out where to put my garden when I moved here but instead of taking down trees I pruned some and "moved" the garden.

Spend $1000 and hire someone to take it down. Done in 1 day! Tell them you'll keep the wood!

Enjoy spending the money cooling your home more now.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 9:58PM
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So what did you do? Having a large dead tree on your property slowly falling apart is hardly taking responsible care of your property, kinda redneck-ish sounding. What about the neighbors? Pay to have it removed or find another place somewhere on 2 acres for your garden.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 12:54AM
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I say give the guy a break!
On my land I have some oaks at 30 inches in diameter,I have seen bigger ones on family or freinds wooded land.It's not like there is a big shortage of mature oak,at least around here.
If you want to sell logs to a sawmill,they told me they prefer logs in the 20-24 inch range because that is what there equipment is set for and they get there best return on.
You can urge someone to spare a large tree,but timber sale is part of a persons livelyhood,you can't deny them that right.
Personaly I would spare some of the largest on my land,but in order to have larger tracts of mature forest, state and federal land must be managed that way.
When I was a child my father cut down a HUGE bur oak-45inches in diameter,It was starting to rot so that was the reason it was cut.It yeilded enough 2x12s to put a new floor in our barn plus it heated our house for the winter.
I counted well over 225 rings,with many being so close together I could only guess how many.My estimate would be safe at 300+ yrs.When I go back to that woodlot now, there are close to 100 bur oak scattered throughout the lot,some nearing 20 inches,so there is a legacy remaining of that big oak.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 10:26AM
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Mailman, you are an evil, evil person, and global warming is ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT!!!

Seriously, the man came here looking for help with a problem. One person saying "Oh no, don't cut down the tree!" was reasonable. Maybe even a second person trying to come up with an alternative was fair. But after he's made it clear that this is what he wants, no, NEEDS, to do with his property, harassing him about his choice is RUDE. If you can't offer him some helpful advise, leave him alone!

That said, I'm still curious as to what you did. I have a HUGE magnolia I'm going to have to cut down soon, I'd like to know how your choice turned out for you.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 9:57PM
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True, a lot of people have chimed in with opinions but I really haven't seen thay many really rude or harassing comments being made. There have been many more well articulated responses. The problem isn't the tree, it is the lack of sun for the garden. Killing the tree is the option he wants to use but it isn't the only option and in some people's opinions certainly not the best option. And a lot of people have given very articulate and reasonable explanations for why they feel that way. There have also been reasonable explanations given from others that support the tree removal so as far as I can see it has been a balanced discussion. Notably however, some people have no tolerance for idle discussion. My advice in that case is to look for static web pages that offer information rather than engage real people in a conversation as they are assured to be disappointed frequently.

I say if he wants to cut down the tree, fine do it. It is fair to say it is his property, and therefore his decision. When you ask about cutting down a healthy, old, native tree that isn't threatening to damage your property on a forum about trees you'd be silly to think that the people who love those old native trees are not going to speak up.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:38AM
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Mailman seeks a solution to a problem, not the opinions of wide-eyed tree-huggers who ignore his circumstances.

I am fortunate enough to have an agronomist with me at work, here is the solution:

Buy a Triclopyr-based product like Garlon 4 Ultra:
the ether-based solutions work best. If you can't get Triclopyr, Clopyralid or Glyphosate are possible substitutes.

In early spring apply a basal bark treatment every 2 weeks, 3-5 times in all. If this is insufficient, drill a ring of 2-3mm holes all around the trunk, downwards about 3cm deep and inject the product pure.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 5:36AM
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Wow, great solution, pollute the area with chemicals, good thinking.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 11:51AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Seems like girdling would be simpler and easier.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 12:18AM
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I hear live oaks are extremely susceptible to the chestnut blight... I can mail you a stick with spores on it.. LOL

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 7:24PM
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Glad mailman found a solution. To all the people who have knocked mailman for wanting to get rid of a tree, please be a bit more open minded.
I am in a similar situation except "my" tree is not an oak, not native, is incredibly fast growing, and nor is it my tree. It is my neighbours. It is now shading just about the entire north (where the sun shines from in New zealand) side of my house, even in summer.
Unfortunately for me, my neighbour believes even trimming a tree is sacreligous. Crazy, given he has 15 acres of land with probably close to 300 trees on it & we have offered to plant SEVERAL other trees to replace the ONE we wished to remove.
Because of this constant shade, we have just spent $3000 (and used earths resources) on the installation of a heat pump , and will continue to rape the earth by having to power this thing, which makes a joke out of my neighbours reasons for keeping the tree (help the environment, etc).
When it comes to trees, some people come from a completely emotional point of view without looking at bigger picture reasoning. I am a bit of a greenie myself, and as such believe in effiency.
Guys, put yourself in someone elses shoes before coming down so harshly on people. Thanks.. Paul

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 5:12AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Well said, Paul

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 11:33AM
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snidelywhiplash(z5a Nebraska)

Okay, it's not an optimal situation, but I can sympathize with mailman here.

To echo what others have said - if you haven't had it taken down already - poke around and find someone w/ a portable sawmill. You could then have the tree taken down, sawn into lumber on-site, and the remainder would make great firewood. Oftentimes the sawyer will cut the wood for a share of the lumber, and charge you very little.

Plus, you get firewood and wonderful lumber you can have kiln-dried and sell or turn into furniture. Use the proceeds to buy a couple saplings and plant 'em. :)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 6:30PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Maybe seeing big trees as a significant part of a human community or even an ecosystem rather than a component of an isolated parcel of private property IS seeing the bigger picture.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 1:38PM
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There are people who BUY trees. They will come in cut down the tree, clean up the mess and pay you to do it. The Forestry Service, or Extension Office can probably help you hook up with someone.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 9:10PM
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    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 3:51PM
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cybersal(8 Heart of Tx)

Postman, the druids are coming for you!

Could you just extremely trim/thin limbs to let more light, in? If it dies then its what you wanted, but a dead tree is better horizontal than vertical.
I had to cut down an old huge double trunk oak in '08 and it was sad and quietly erie for days after. Both upper trunks were hollow (struck by lightening twice)but it was growing like crazy. It was very slanted and it creaked. I had the stump left at 3 ft and there is a ring of babies coming up around it. Without it, the nearby flower bed has taken a big sun-damage hit.I really really hate to take any tree down.
I also deeply agree with the poster who wished people would get as worked up about saving unborn humans as we do about saving trees.
Gardening is good for your body, mind, and spitit, the "$300" in produce is just a bonus. If yours has to be in that spot, go for it.

Hint to all: NEVER let a firewood dealer 'trim' your trees.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 11:55AM
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cybersal(8 Heart of Tx)

sorry mailman (not postman) I just re-read some of the hateful posts. "increasingly rare incredibly valuable miracle of life" - hogwash!
Some people just don't realize how many more trees there are now, in the U.S.for example, than there were 200 years ago. I'd cut the darn thing down, but just realize if you do, the world may never recover. If its so hard to establish a tree why do I have to keep mowing down so many little oaks. So silly.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 1:07PM
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klavier(Z7 Baltimore)

Simply for spite, I think it would be great (being far enough away from the house) to girdle it, and then light the dead tree on fire. Grab some sun glasses and stand far far away. The ash would be great for the garden too. I took down a norway maple that had a bird bath in the top from years of some person scalping the thing. I was cutting the branches off, and a couple guys in a pick up truck stopped by and asked if they could have the branches. I said they could have the whole thing. At that they took out the biggest chain saw I have ever seen and cut the thing to the ground in a matter of minutes, and then they carted it away. It was 30-40 inches in diameter. I replaced it with a nice dogwood. Put a flyer in the local grocerie for free oak wood. You may very well get some guys to come and take it away for free.

-Werner J Stiegler
Director Binghamton Memorial Tree Program

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 8:44PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Some people just don't realize how many more trees there are now, in the U.S.for example, than there were 200 years ago."

From the data I've seen, it is simply not true that there were more trees in the US, 200 years ago, than there are today (unless you try to cheat by leaving out Alaska which wasn't part of our country then). According to the US Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (they are THE experts on this), there was considerably more forested land 200 years ago than today. Even at the all-time low (around 1920), there was only slightly less forest land than there is today.

Besides this, in the mid 1600's there were over a billion acres of forested land. We now have less than three quarters of that. Even if the comment above was restated to compare today with the early 1900's, why would anyone want to brag that we are slightly better than we were at our worst, when we had devastated a large part of this natural resource?

I've heard others discount our nation's need for conserving our nation's resources of trees, but it always seems to me that these people either refuse to review the facts or intentionally try to cover up the facts to back up their misguided viewpoint.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 7:09PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

The number of trees present in the US has nothing to do with whether Mailman should cut down his tree. My post was added only as a response to the post I quoted. I keep seeing this kind of junk posted, and can't understand what world the posters are living in.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 7:42PM
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Agreed, Brandon. I've seen claims made for the amount of forestland being greater now than at some point in the past, and when these claims are investigated, one finds such things as newly set-aside ag land being counted as forest, and other such spin.

One only needs to look around to see what is happening.

Also deceptive, timber companies claims about how many trees are planted for each one cut down. It is disingenuous at the least to not state the obvious-that old growth forests are being decimated and replaced with largely monoculture stands which will never be allowed to develop to anything like full maturity. I'm not against timber harvesting per se but I am very much against forest genetic simplification and short rotations. And this is where things are headed.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 10:54PM
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Let the man kill his darn tree if he wants to - ALL OF YOU MAKE ME SICK! It's not your property and you're not paying taxes on it - go ***** at the companies actually cutting down the rain forests by hundreds of acres on a monthly basis and stop acting ridiculous here. As far as killing the unwanted tree goes... I am about to try this... copper is suppose to kill trees, some people suggest lots of copper nails... I'm about to cut some copper pipe at sharp angles and hammer them inside all around an acacia that I have that is pissing me off with the buckets full of flowers that it is dumping into my beautiful koi pond... (no, I ainÂt moving my beautiful koi pond) - yeah that's right you green freak... I am green too, but for crying out loud, I will do whatever I want on my property. Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 6:46PM
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Simple way, don't water that stupid tree for a month, then when she's reaaaal thirsty, DOT 3 brake fluid... That'll do the trick reaaaal quick... And for your neighbors cat.... Set a bowl of wet cat food, mixed with some good 'ol GREEN antifreeze!!! make it even quicker, set a hammer and a box of copper nails next to it, and every time u walk past it... Put a nail in that B%#�*

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 4:04AM
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I have been rakking tree leafs for 75 years. Some have been my own and most have been my neighbors. The neighbors seen to go missing when it is time to gather fallen leaves. Who is the fellow that said Oak leaves make good mulch. that is dead wrong. Oak leaves are full of acid. try to grow a lawn or garden around oak trees. I had 21 white and black oaks on my 85 by 135 lot and I cut down all but seven. To dig out stumps was a major task. I now have an P--- oak next door. The fellow is never around; so I at 82 raked them up to try and save my lawn. Also to keep my blue berry plants form going above 5.5 P.H. People always say how pretty a tree are but those are the people that don`t have to take care of them. Now I feel better.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 9:18PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Hey Alfred, did that chip on your shoulder come from one of those oaks? Most of us here love trees AND THE LEAVES THEY SHED. They can make great mulch, and that's the very reason grass doesn't grow well when covered by them. Grass isn't supposed to be covered by mulch. Sounds like you'd have less work if you weren't fighting nature so hard. If you want grass instead of leaves, rake or shred your leaves. If you are unable or too lazy to rake your leaves, get someone to do it for you. If that's not possible, move into one of those places where they take care of the lawn maintenance for you.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 9:28PM
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Dan Staley

Brandon, surely you are failing to be tuned in to the American need to advertise your ability to dominate and subsume nature by performing regular lawn maintenance on your well-kept front yard. Nonetheless, this thread was amusing and I'm glad it popped up!


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 10:10AM
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Uh...Brandon? Why are you yelling at an 82 year old gentleman who is tired of raking leaves? :o

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 4:59PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Umm...maybe because he is whining about how bad trees are instead of enjoying nature OR doing something else to address his problems. If he doesn't like trees, he shouldn't live underneath them!

It's kind of like building a house in a flood zone and then moaning about what awful things rivers are because the river floods your home when it rains.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:44PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If the tree is destroyed this late in the game, only to have the current occupant soon off the property themselves then that becomes a counterproductive legacy.

It all pivots on whether the tree is thought to have any value of its own.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 12:08AM
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Dan Staley

It all pivots on whether the tree is thought to have any value of its own.

Some people are told to believe there is only use value.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 12:39AM
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"Umm...maybe because he is whining about how bad trees are instead of enjoying nature OR doing something else to address his problems. If he doesn't like trees, he shouldn't live underneath them!" ~ Brandon

I can empathize with Alfred, I've only been raking leaves from my neighbor's two huge live oaks planted right along our fence for a little over a year (spring and fall, billions of leaves, then the fuzzy pollen) and I'm close to asking how to kill trees fast. lol

Seriously though, I love trees and don't even mind raking leaves from the live oak, sweet gum and ash tree on our property (the shade from the hot Texas sun makes it almost worth it), just wish I didn't have to deal with others' tree litter as well.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 7:42PM
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Maybe the people here haven't heard the news.
There's this invention called a leaf blower.
It's like a long tube at the end of a motor and you point it at the leaves and they blow away.
It's like MAGIC!

You can even blow them back into your neighbors yard, if that's where the leaves originated!

You're probably thinking that a tool like this magic tube that makes leaves disappear must only affordable for the super wealthy. But would you believe that you can get a leaf blower for under one hundred u.s. dollars? It's true! Brand new!

Leaf problems, no more. And they even work on those pesky sweetgum and sycamore seedballs, hickory nuts, catkins, pine needles, pine cones and acorns! Magic!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Cheryl, does this magic tube also evaporate the leaves? I fear if I blow them all into the street or storm drain I'll get fined by A) the county or B) the HOA. If I blow them into my neighbor's yard they'll likely retaliate by letting their dog do his business on my lawn for the foreseeable future. ;)

Leaf blower we got, collecting them for disposal is a whole other issue.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 7:18PM
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I understood your complaint to be with raking. Which, I'll admit, is a lot of work. You still may want to collect the leaves which is quite simple by blowing the leaves onto a tarp and then scooping them into a bag or compost bin. Or if you'd like you can just bundle and tie the leaves in the tarp and transport them to an appropriate leaf dumping ground.

It sounds like another good investment would be a fence. It'll keep leaves, trash and unrestrained animals from entering your yard. I often appreciate how our fence keeps so much litter and leaves from coming into our yard.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 7:50PM
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Thank God I live in the country and let the leaves return the needed nutrients back into the soil naturally. A few times over with the lawn mower for the leaves in the yard and I am done!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 10:04PM
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I dont understand why people need lawns anyways. They are a waste of gas and time. I doubt we would be worrying about gas shortages and air pollution if everyone just let their yards go and return to forest.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 10:31PM
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I came across this website because I too want to kill a tree. After reading some of the responses to this mans question, I had to join this site so I could post some of my own comments.

In light of what is happening with our government at the current time, that is telling us every move we can and cannot make, reading some of the comments on here has really pissed me off.

This man asked a question about killing a tree which he more than likely owns and is on his own property. It is his tree to do with as he feels. All of you "Save the Earth", Sierra Club type people should do one of two things. Either provide a sensible solution to the mans question, or keep out of it. The tree belongs to him and if if you don't like what he's about to do with it, then simply keep your mouths shut and mind your own business. People like you make me sick. Always sticking your nose into other people's business and telling everyone else how to live, just like is happening with our government these days. Your all the same. Tell everyone else how they should live their lives, and how were harming the environment. Yet I bet the majority of you eat hamburgers, drive cars, live in big fancy houses made from trees that were harvested for that purpose, wear leather shoes and down filled coats.

LIve your life the way you see fit and let everyone else do the same with theirs. Now, I think I'll go kill a few trees.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 1:24AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


Many of the above posts (including mine) have agreed with you about mailman22's situation. However, your view that no one should care what anyone else does on their property, even though it may have a direct effect on the rest of the Earth isn't reasonable. If everyone just "minded their own business" and didn't express concern/take action when they saw something that had a possibly very negative reaction for the rest of us, our species (and the Earth) would be doomed much faster than it may already be.

Bottom line is...not every tree hugger is butting in where they don't belong. Many are involved with saving your planet! But maybe I took your advice more generally than you meant for it to be taken....

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:32AM
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mailman...i just read all the trash following your question. i also want to kill a damn oak tree, not to provide sun to my garden ( i did that already) but because it is too big. if i cut it it will fall onto the neighbors property. i have cut two large grooves into it, about 2 inches deep. however, this spring new leaves came onto the it must take a long time or it didn't work. it is not a live oak, but a water oak which are nothing but garbage, as far as i am concernd, although they make great firewood and shade.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 5:38PM
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We have just bought a bungalow and at the side is a protected wall which is mostly dirt stones and ivy the problem we have is that there is a giant tree absolutely huge growing out of the wall, the tree is protected but we are uneasy with it growing out of the wall, the leaves block the gutter and all the neighbours complain about this tree, can we have it cut down.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 9:19AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

What is a "protected wall"?

Some communities/cities/counties/etc have regulations concerning whether healthy trees can be removed. If there are no such regulations where you live, there isn't something I don't understand about a "protected wall", and it's your property, then you should be able to have the tree removed without issue.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 12:42PM
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I have several Large Oaks that need to be removed from my property as I FEAR they will topple thru my house, ask my neighbor he's got a tree sticking thru his roof.Please contact me if you are interested in my Large Oaks,there is one next to my house.Brandon you can have that one if you like.It is 12 inches from the house,any way Mr Alfred I feel your pain.
Iam in the Atlanta Area please contact me via email if interested, again these are LARGE OAK Trees. Unfortunately I can not afford private tree removal.
Thank-You Petra

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 8:11PM
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Drill a 1 inch dia hole one foot deep into the base at an upward angle and then hammer a 3 foot long pipe into the hole and fill with BASF Sahara weed killer! bye bye oak very soon.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 11:50AM
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terrene(5b MA)

The fastest way to kill a tree is to have a professional tree service come and cut it down. Although it's expensive, IMO it would be totally foolish to have anyone but a competent insured professional remove a tree that is close to and at risk of hitting a house or other structure.

Girdling is not fast, perhaps poisoning would work faster. Either way you are left with a hulk of a dead tree that will eventually drop bark, limbs, and become a hazard if in the proximity of house, outbuildings, driveway, gardens, etc. What's left of my large girdled Norway maple is kind of ugly too. Best left for a more naturalized landscape.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 7:46PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Has anyone else noticed that this thread seems to have attracted a lot of wacko weirdo's from the internet? Where do these people come from? No wonder society seems to be on a downhill slide...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 10:39PM
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Like moths to a porch light.

Unless I'm one of the whacko weirdos you're referring to, Brandon. ;)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 3:16PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Nope ghostlyvision, you're a regular Gardenweb member. I'm talking about these people that have never been on Gardenweb before and just log on to suggest some absurd way to kill a tree. I wish Gardenweb had a members only posting policy, and a 24-hour waiting period for membership approval might help too. It's the SPAMmers and wacko weirdos that annoy me like flies at a picnic or mosquitoes at a lawn party.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 8:56PM
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Also, thee is no active moderator like on PalmTalk and Growing On The Edge.
I'm not so convinced that people are that precious: aren't we going to have 7 billion soon?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 9:57PM
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I tend to agree that people should be able to make decisions about trees on their own property, just as they should be able to choose to have an abortion.
Though there are some "landmark" trees around that I would be sad to lose.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 10:13PM
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"I'm not so convinced that people are that precious: aren't we going to have 7 billion soon?"

No offense, but that statement is just ridiculous. Please don't tell me that a tree, ANY tree, is more precious than a human life! I started this thread years ago. I can't believe it's still going. However, when a decision to cut down a tree is compared to deciding to have an abortion, well, THAT'S when you know it's gone beyond all reason.
Folks, I asked how to kill a tree, not IF I should. I have since cut down nearly 40 trees on my property and not one tear fell. Thats 40 less than the 400 billion or so trees left in the world and growing!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 8:18AM
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Dan Staley

No one claimed that a tree was more precious than human life or compared felling a tree to abortion. And the total number of trees on the planet is not 'growing'. Humans are cutting them down much, much faster than they regrow. Come now, lots of jumping to false conclusions and faulty rhetoric on this thread as well. Sheesh. Let us allow this ridiculous thread to die a much-needed FAST! death.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 12:19PM
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How did you finally get rid of the tree that's the subject of this post, mailman? Sorry if you mentioned it above, too many posts to climb through to try and find it.

Thanks Brandon, I was just funnin' with ya.

I won't post on here anymore, Dan.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 3:46PM
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I can't believe how many of you are in space!!! Everyone has problem trees in the 1/4 and 1/2 lots all around our the city. My brother had a uncooperative neighbor, and was killed when a large oak which was hollow inside ( the neighbor's tree specialist said the giant oak was healthy and no threat. During a bad storm in the middle of the night less than 6 months later, this oak monster (36" diameter) went through his roof and onto his sleeping body in the master bedroom, killing him instantly. His daughter and son died in the hospital.

Postman, I add this per your question: You can also put 16/18 penny copper nails, spaced about 1 inch apart, around the tree base. Recess them with a nail punch. As the tree dies, collect the fallen branches and use the in you fire place, or, grind them into mulch for you garden and flower beds. If it is near a property line, be careful and let the owner know your willing to do it free of cost to him ( as my brother did). If his still disagrees, take it down and bill him in small claims court. Use a good and mean attorney. The owner of my brothers adjacent property's insurance company payed beyond 3 million. My bro was good at documenting.
No one will insure that tree hugging sob now, and the tree expert lost his licence and job. The sob lives in a rental neighborhood, apartment style. The builder cleared every large three within 500 meters of his apartment house. Sigh.... for what????? Does that erase my anger. I don't know but it does NOT erase my desire to get even ( JFK first said that). Nothing will replace our talks at the fireside and camping. Nothing. You idiots. Don't tell me about unresolved hate, just contribute to the American Cancer Society, as I do and volunteer for, a group with REAL issues to attack.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 7:05PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Climb up that tree and cut it limb by limb. Use ropes. Get a couple people to help. Check out your insurance policy and maybe raise the coverage. Cutting trees is very dangerous and a reason why its expensive to have one taken down. The equipment isn't cheap either.

One reason why I grow fruit trees and prune them. They'll never have a chance to fall on my house and crush my family.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:40PM
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ok i really dont think she wanted any criticism or to be called names like little elementary school kids do just options on how to get rid of an unwanted tree.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 4:12PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Sara, which "she" are you talking about? What specific criticism do you find not useful? Did you actually read the thread? Do you have anything constructive to add to this conversation or do you just like digging up old threads to flame others?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 9:21PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

"Nonetheless, this thread was amusing and I'm glad it popped up!"

I agree Dan, I enjoyed reading it too.

I'm with you Mailman, I have ten acres with some really huge trees. Mostly hickory and a lot of oak, some are at least 100 years old, if I decide to whack one I'll whack it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 12:34PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

>if I decide to whack one I'll whack itCue theme from The Godfather.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 12:45PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

LOL bboy! Didn't think of that!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 2:09PM
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