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Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

Posted by Jesbryn 8, Portland, OR (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 1:59

We have an amur maackia that we planted three years ago. It's been a lovely tree. Some contractors installing cable boxes on the lot next to ours tore a main limb off it. As you can see the wound is deep, and my pictures don't show how lopsided it now is- before this it had a great shape.

I talked to the contractor and agreed to wait and see if the tree survives. But a knowledgeable neighbor told me it will never properly heal or correct its now lopsided shape. So I am thinking of insisting the contractor replace the tree now, rather than wait and lose more years of growth. He didn't seem too happy when I contacted him, and he launched into a story about some other tree they damaged that grew back just fine.

So for anyone who knows trees- do you agree I should stick to my guns and have them replace the tree? I had been faithfully watering it 3 summers now- I really don't want to wait two more and then figure out the tree is done for and have to start over. But I don't know enough about trees to confidently argue my point with the contractor, so some input would be greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

I wouldn't say 'it will never properly heal'. But you won't know for several years. As for the shape, IMHO it is too young to assert that 'you can't correct its shape'. But you won't know for several years. Tough call. Not sure what I'd do either.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

it will not die in the next 20 years...

it will recover in some form or another ... and not necessarily bad ... this is not catastrophic for a tree ... the wind does it all the time ....

but damage is damage.. get compensated ... i would take $50 - $100 and be happy ... and leave the tree there ...

ask him if you can gratuitously breakout his windshield.. and tell him he can still see thru it.. so whats the harm ...

he has insurance.. have him use it ... we will see if it recovers.. after he pays the damages ...

your base problem is that any actual harm.. and losing one branch is not that big a deal to a tree.. especially a maple ... is that any real damage.. might not show up for 10.. 20 .. or 30 years. ... and that would be a bit late to complain ... and even then.. its not that big a deal ...

no painting.. no fertilizing.. its a maple.. it wont care.. and once it leafs out.. it will be out of mind ...

and in fact.. it looks like it was an undesirable co-dominant leader.. which many of us would have had to figure out.. how to get out of there anyway ... lol ... that is NOT an easy wound for a tree to heal.. but when that trunk is a foot thick.. it will be healed over ...

it was a pretty masterful job.. to only break out that branch.. as i see no other damage ...

ken

ps: are those lowest branches sticking out into the sidewalk.. trying to poke out the eyes of walkers?? .. might need some further raisign of the canopy .... [could be camera angle???]


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 10:13

It looks like a split that might have occurred anyway, under snow load for instance. With that heartwood stain I would replace the tree, regardless of concerns about its new shape.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

ask him if you can gratuitously breakout his windshield.. and tell him he can still see thru it.. so whats the harm ...

:o)


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

talk to me about the heartwood stain ...

thats a hanging curveball ...ken

ps: is this a city guy.. or a contractor for the city???... you ought to be able to track down his insurance carrier.. w/o going thru him ...


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

1. I'm happy to be shown otherwise, but I don't know what a normal trunk-branch section of this species looks like. Are we sure that's heartwood staining?

2. For such a small tree, formal assessment and valuation probably isn't going to get you much. It would be great for a little settlement from the vendor, provided his deductible isn't sky-high. Which is why I thought Ken's comment upthread was funny - realistically this might be what it comes down to...


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

another hanging curveball on heartwood staining..

i dont think it really means anything.. they just like throwing it in .. lol ...

no atty is going to take the case.. but if you can get to an adjuster ... get around Mr. Denial ... they might want to close the case for a pittance.. [which is all a maple is worth anyway.. lol] ....

though beloved to you.. and the fact that it wont die.. means you have a boo boo.. that isnt worth much ...

ken

ps: a sledgehammer to the middle of his hood.. and tell him.. the engine still runs.. get over it ... [NOTE!!!: this is humor.. not a suggested course of action ....]


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

Haha Ken...good stuff! It's a Maackii amurensis, not an Amur maple, but in all other respects, your (Ken's) comments are right on. The tree will not die because of this, it is very likely to eventually regain a decent shape, but the wound will be there forever, even after callus tissue completely covers it over, and that means a weak spot. Sio some degree of compensation is in order, but you may as well not remvoe the whole tree.

+oM


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

We get stuck with the $50 or so if our delivery team causes some collateral damage....usually in pursuit of a tip.

Tell him $100 or replant you a tree of similar size.

Just curious, how did his fellas damage that?


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by Jesbryn 8, Portland, OR (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 22:22

Thanks so much for all input, thoughts, and windshield smashing advice ;)

Just to answer a couple questions- the contractor I'm speaking of is the head contractor for a good sized company. They are installing broadband boxes for Century Link. The guy I've been talking to has been nice enough but I could tell he'd had it with me when I told him I think we may just want to replace the tree now. He agreed, but it was clearly through gritted teeth, and I get the feeling it could be a while.

They damaged the tree branch with their backhoe. I also witnessed one of the men thrashing around in the branches of the tree as he was trying to get some metal bars out of their truck parked next to it. He was not just exhibiting carelessness to the tree- it was more like hostility- he actually slapped at the branches! It would have struck me as comical if I hadn't been so mad.

(They also damaged our fence (they resolved this by removing our damaged portion for us and compromising on the style of fence put around the cable boxes). They also damaged some minor upper branches in the same tree, and dug away a solid third of a persian ironwood's roots at the other end of our property where they were bringing their cables up along a telephone pole. They completely dug up and lost a few dormant ground cover plants we had planted last year, and dug up our lavender bush and left it lying exposed for ten or more days, after which they threw it back in the ground to possibly recover. When I went out to smooth the ground and weed before throwing down some new mulch, I found that instead of replacing our soil with soil, the ground is now more than half full of gravel and some kind of gray concrete dust substance, so now I should probably remove and transplant a concrete splattered purple euphorbia that seems to be surrounded by the stuff)

So, all that said- I'm trying my best not to sweat the small stuff like ground cover plants- even though that makes me mad every time I think about it. The tree I feel is worth fighting for though- I really like the tree and I don't want to lose more years of growth, our street needs more mature trees!

I'm adding two more pictures- we're in wet, rainy Portland, Oregon here- so no snow really- but there are some mold spots already.

Thanks again for all advice!


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

BTW, a tree of that size and shape in that narrow treelawn is going to get some broken branches from the garbage truck, street sweeper, UPS, etc. so get used to that tradeoff.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

your biggest problem.. is that is an easement..

you dont own it..

and you dont really have the right to plant things in it .. trees.. groundcover.. fences...

and on some level.. i can understand why bozo was so p.o.'d at it being in his way... [though i would suggest that if he were more manly.. he would NOT have been witch-slapping at it.. lol ... though he did get the backhoe in play... so he sucked it up ] ...

one might argue.. you created the issue.. by invading the easement ...

i used to live in suburbia.. in understand the space limitations.. and the need to hide utilities.. but do look at it from the other side...

frankly.. this is right up there with the peeps who plant large tree under power lines.. and then complain.. when the power company.. wants to prune that 65 foot tree that has the power lines running thru it.. while the tree owner both complains that there are repeated power interruptions .. but you cant touch my blessed tree ...

really.. its a no win for everyone ...

just ignore it.. and see if it 'disappears' when it leafs out... the canopy will compensate ...

live and learn.. and you said you are trying not to sweat the small stuff.. but really if this is going to spike your blood pressure every time you look at it.. jsut get rid of it ...

me??? .. i could convince myself.. that i would enjoy spending the next few years.. watching.. and learning.. how the tree reacts ... but on 5 acres i could forget about it 95% of the time..

if you are going to have to live with this 24/7/365.. and you cant 'get over it' .. then get rid of it.. and move on...

but as i said.. for $50.. i could forget real fast.. [especially if i spent in on a good bottle of scotch.. lol] ...

ken


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

and you dont really have the right to plant things in it .. trees.. groundcover.. fences...

It depends on the city. They may have turned over care and maintenance to the adjacent property owner and still control the plant list. Up there it is likely.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

These strips are 'easements' and that means the property owners do own them. My deeds say to the middle of the road. But yes, depending on the municipality you may have restrictions on what you can plant there. In the nearby city, they have no restrictions, and if you wanted to plop a redwood in one, it's your call. The same city used to have huge plantings of Linden and Maple and Oaks in these strips in older residential areas, but most are needless to say gone since the homeowners bore the brunt of maintaining.

Actually Amur Maackia is a wonderful tree for this situation. It's a slow grower, and being leguminous, fixes its own nitrogen, making it a good urban tree in poor soil situations. It's also relatively pest free. I have one very near the drive of our home, and have found it's easily kept so the canopy does not interfere with incoming tall vehicles, limbing it up and allowing the upper canopy to spread. Judging from the girth of the trunk, I'd say this one has been in situ awhile and is not a really young one, at least that's how it would present in my environment. Mine's been on site for about ten years now and not nearly as large. I can't make a call for your tree, but I would not fell one like that here. The lower limbs of yours seem to encroach on the sidewalk, and also into the street. I think it would be a much less noticeable 'hole' in your canopy if you limbed it up enough if that were the case. (ducking now, to avoid the backlash of those who don't like limbed-up trees). I think it's warranted in this situation if my impression of the tree canopy is correct. Hard to tell from a perspective issue on pictures. Don't bet on heavy canopy to hide this wound. Maackia tend to be more open and airy.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

Not all treelawns are easements. It depends on the city.

My observation with these situations is not about cultural factors or pest resistance - it is about size and shape. That is: shorter, vase-shaped trees next to the street get hit by trucks. If I interpret the foto upthread correctly, it looks as if a limb is already into the traveled way. You can't remove it, as the tree needs the leaf area, and maybe you can do a heading cut but then you get the pruning reaction and you have to fix that...

One town I worked for the PW guys took me out on their sweeping runs so I could mark which trees were getting hit - and have city staff go out to prune (me), which is an expense to compensate for the narrowness of the treelawn, overhead wires, etc. The maintenance of smaller trees next to streets can be more expensive per unit leaf area.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

Jes, methinks the city of Portland would have means to handle these situations. Is there not some performance bonding process within the contracts? These are standard items where I live. It doesn't mean all problems are eliminated-it just means there is some possibility of recourse when they do occurr.

Oh and BTW, drought-lovers like both Euphorbias and Lavendula are actually ok with limey soil deficient in organic matter. Those plants might be just fine with their new and disimproved settings!

+oM


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by campv Arizona (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 17:23

Aren't most cable companies privately owned? Owned by the city of Portland? Contractor hired buy the cable company?
Cable companies don't have the same rights as the city. If it was me I would get replacement money for the tree and other bushes you lost. Hange on to it till Spring and see what the tree tells you to do. Spring is only a few short months away


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by Jesbryn 8, Portland, OR (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 18:15

Thanks very much! You guys are helping me keep it in perspective. Ken, I agree about the bottle of scotch :)

About the easement here- we do own our strip between the sidewalk and street, and it's common for people to landscape it. Some people really do it up beautifully. We are amateurs and ours isn't so beautiful yet, but we are taking notes on what others are doing and trying to get there someday.

We have a great organization here called Friends of Trees- if you sign up they'll send a city inspector to your house, who will mark the curb where it is safe to plant a tree or trees, then they will give you a list of acceptable trees to choose from based on the size of your strip and power lines overhead. So we chose the amur maackia from the approved list. If you're wondering why I haven't just contacted them, I did in the past when I had concerns about another tree, and they sent me a list of tree experts I could hire. So my impression is they are great at getting you started with your trees but don't have the resources to make house calls the rest of the trees life.

This is a little off topic- but we planted 5 trees in all: the amur maackia and 2 persian ironwoods in our strip, and in our lawn, a dwarf methley plum and a kentucky coffee tree. Of the 5, the amur maackia and the methley plum are our favorites. The kentucky coffee looks great in the summer but spends a large portion of the year looking like a forlorn little stick figure. The persian ironwoods are alright, but they have a way of always looking thirsty, no matter how much I water them. The methley plum is great- there's something chewing on some of the leaves that I have to figure out, but it's very pretty and actually growing really fast- it was supposed to be a dwarf? The amur maackia is just great- it's just been 3 years and it was looking very robust before this, and it's the first to get its leaves and the last to lose them. I'd highly recommend to anyone looking for a city tree.

Looking at my pictures, I can see why some of you are worried about pedestrian eyes being poked out! I assure you the branches aren't out over the sidewalk- yet. Thanks to your concern I'll be keeping an eye on that!

Wisconsitom- thanks for mentioning that about euphorbias and lavendula- you're right, that makes sense!


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

I've worked with FoT - they're great at what they do.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by Jesbryn 8, Portland, OR (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 20, 13 at 18:46

WxDano- yes! We love FoT.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by jqpublic 7b/8a Wake County NC (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 0:36

I want Fred Armisen to spoof this on the next episode of Portlandia


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

  • Posted by Jesbryn 8, Portland, OR (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 1:06

Haha! jqpublic- Yes! I can see it- instead of a branch it would just be a little twig- and instead of an online tree forum- there would be a Portland Tree Forum of elderly hippies wearing tree costumes :)


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

IMHO,
You need to make them pay something significant in order to provide incentive to be more careful.

Also one aspect is being overlooked here. WET WINTER CLIMATE. You are going to be much more prone to rot developing in a persistently damp climate in winter (and the tree is dormant), versus the same wound in episodically wet climate where short wet periods (though often heavy) alternate with fairly long dry periods in between. So FWIW, I would replace the tree due to threat of trunk rot developing.

Arktrees


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

You need to make them pay something significant in order to provide incentive to be more careful.

Ark, I'll wager the incentive to get done on time (or under time) is far more significant than a few tree branches or trampled plants. They've got a %age in the bid for plant damage. Document and report and follow up.


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RE: Should I replace this damaged tree or wait

Fair enough Dano, and true. However whatever they can get out of paying out, is $$$ they get to keep. So still some incentive. Otherwise, they would not try so hard to get out of paying for stuff like this. Otherwise I have no disagreement. Report follow up, and I would replace. The fact that there is already "mold" spots developing says volumes IMHO, and it would probable take 4-5 years AT BEST for that wound to close on such a slow growing tree. Autumn Blaze Maple, fast growing, fast wound closure, roll the dice and don't replace. Slow growing, then replace. JMHO

Arktrees


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