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How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Posted by hpb1963 Georgia (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 6, 10 at 12:19

I have a very large tree in my yard that just has to go. It is probably close to 8 foot around and taller than my 3 story house. It is in an area that poses no threat to my house so my association will not allow me to cut it down unless it is dead or is an inherent danger to the structure of my house. I have tried and begged for 5 years. Since it is about 100ft away from the house it won't fall on it but it has destroyed my walkway and my driveway twice. I even submitted a plan to re-route my driveway to move it 25 feet away from the tree but the association says it would make too dramatic of a change to the astetics of the home vs. the neighborhood standards. The roots run under my driveway and has twice lifted the concrete up and broken it in two different places. It shades about a 600sq foot area of yard that I cannot keep grass growing, it drops tons of nuts every year that take root in the gardens and yard. Occassionally a monsterous limb will fall out of the top which hasn't hit anything but eventually my luck could run out. I cannot find anything positive about this tree any longer after living here for 10 years. If the tree would just die, then I can have it safely removed. I know the "tree-huggers" (no offence intended) are appalled by my un-PC attitude but I promise to plant 10 trees (or more) elsewhere in my 5 1/2 acres to make up for the removal of this one tree.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I don't know that I would be considered a tree hugger. I have cut down plenty of them in my day.
So I will say that it sounds like this is not the ideal property for you. You should move to a property that does not have mature landscaping that will not shade out your precious lawn.

Just the same as I would never again buy a property without mature landscaping and shade and a lawn that has long since fizzled away, I would suggest that rather than fight nature and have a property that sticks out in your neighborhood, call a realtor.

If you don't like that idea, grab a sawzall and cut a circle around the tree, severing the roots as close to the tree as you can. Cover the cut with mulch. Then run.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

People often use concentrated forms of Roundup (or the generic equivalent) applied to the cambium layer of cut stumps to kill the stump. If sprayed on the leaves over much of the tree, I would think it could kill it. Of course, that probably wouldn't be very 'discreet.'

If fact, you know those 'root killer' products people flush down toilets into septic tanks to kill tree roots?

I would think there'd be some high-powered herbicide that could be applied around the base that would kill it. But the patch of dead grass around the tree base would be implicating, and if the herbicide was long-lasting, that could be an issue, too.

What if the poster took some Roebic 'Foaming Root Killer,' made for keeping tree roots out of septic lines, or since foaming might be problematic a copper sulfate solution, and tried that? Maybe mix it up in a bottle, and inject it around the base of the tree perhaps a foot deep (to get down lower than the grass).

What are the odds this would kill the tree & leave no substantial incriminating evidence of how it was done?

Richard.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

First, there is no need to have that 600 sf of grass. Brian Stone has done several papers about urban heat islands using examples from Georgia where the social norms require large lots and lots of grass, which is actually worse for the UHI than lots of 8000 sf lots (for long technical reasons).

Nonetheless, the only germane information is the dropping limbs as the other descriptors are personal preference (and thus are not reasons to kill a large tree).

For a tree that size to be dropping limbs is indeed a hazard. And so is killing a possibly declining tree and having the stressed tree drop limbs in 'panic' at the poison in its system. You can't do a soil drench for the reasons above, so you may want to consider a root feeder to deliver the product. And up the insurance on your property to guard against the increased risk your actions make it worse.

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

That's all logical to me. See the last paragraph gardeninggrandma wrote. (do it as close to the ground as you can to conceal the cut - severing the 'bark' not the roots)

Dax


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

If the tree dies suddenly in suspicious circumstances, the Association (knowing your previous requests) will almost certainly investigate thoroughly - and the methods suggested so far won't stand up to any detailed scrutiny. You'd need an extremely discrete method that can't be associated with human action at all, and that won't be easy.

Resin


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

What species is the tree?

Thinking a bit outside the box, maybe you could drill some *small* holes and inoculate the tree with mushrooms. There are many varieties commercially available. If an arborist sees mushroom growing out of the wood, that's sure to raise alarm.

The kits are meant to inoculate dead logs, I don't know how easy it is to get mushrooms started in healthy wood of a living tree. I also think that not every kind of mushroom will grow in every kind of wood. If you can find a "match" with a mushroom that is native to your area, it might work.

Alex


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

What you really need to do is 1) have one or more certified arborists examine the tree and give you their opinion as to whether or not the tree presents a danger or nuisance; 2) if one or more arborists tell you the tree presents a danger or nuisance, and the HOA still refuses to be reasonable, consult an attorney. A letter from the attorney to your HOA stating why they are being unreasonable, citing some relevant law and precident, and threatening to hold them liable for any damages the tree may cause to property or person might make them change their minds.

Worth a shot. Many attorneys will give a free consultation in this day and age, since the legal profession is hurting for business just like many other industries.


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RE: Could you 'cook' the cambium layer?

OR, if you want to try a stealth route -- try cooking the cambium layer with a propane torch.

I use my "weed torch" to "cook" various unwanted weeds/plants, including woody tree seedlings. What I have noticed on small woody plants, say up to about 2 inches in diameter, is that there is enough moisture in the bark to allow it the "cook" without scorching -- it more steams than smokes. The bark often doesn't even split, just discolors a bit, looking kind of "water-soaked".

Of course, you haven't identified the tree species in your post, so perhaps it's something with really thick, corky, heat resistant bark, and this might not work so well. But, if its a "normal" tree, it could work. If it's something with relatively thin bark, like an aspen, I'm sure it would work.

But, as a rule, I believe that you could probably "cook" the cambium layer under the bark with the heat of a propane torch THROUGH A WET BARK LAYER without scorching the tree too much. I would experiment by wetting an area of the bark with a hose, and then cooking with the torch, re-moistening as necessary to keep the bark from scorching. You don't want to leave obvious scorch marks -- what you want to do is to kill the live cambium under the bark without visible evidenced of your actions. I think that this could be done.

As an alternative method, perhaps pouring large quantities of boiling water down the trunk might work?

With either approach, you would need to do it all the way around the trunk to "girdle" the tree.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I favor the certified arborist inspection route. When you find one who declares the tree a hazard deliver a certified letter to the president of your homeowners association to notify him/her they are now personally responsible for damages when it fails.

Ug. HOAs. Big government starts at home.

Trees in suburban landscapes do have useful life expectancies. You have satisfied the tree hugger in me with your plan to replace it.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Moral of the story - never live where there is a HOA! If you don't want their rules, why live there? I am so glad my 5 acres are not in a HOA and I can plant or remove any trees I want, when I want - and I can burn the debris anytime I want.

That said, I am not really sure what the big problem with your tree is. It is healthy, far from the house and poses no risk. Why remove it. So it pushes up your walkway a little bit. Does it render the walkway unusable?


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Move.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

  • Posted by dsieber z5 (Lakewood CO) (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 6, 10 at 23:24

Move is right, it takes a lot of gall to come and post you would like to kill your tree so you can have lush lawn. Maybe there is some anal lush lawn forum you can get advice from (they may have some ninja lumberjacks on retainer) Grow a pair!!!!!!!!


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Hpb said they would plant new trees. I do not see a philosophical problem.

Group think is as bad as HOA enforcement.

If on my next property i want everything to flower i am going to cut down a few oaks. Perhaps i will want all evergreens or all conifers and remove a stand of willows in favor of bald cypress. Some will disagree and i would welcome any constructive advice. Just dont be hating.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I opt for "Move" also. Most anything you do will likely be discovered by the Association which you fear, and which apparently has the power to fine you. Another vote for avoiding HOA. We have enough government as it is. Why volunteer for more of it.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

People are mighty free with the 'move' crap. Anybody perchance done a little research into what a 3 story home on 5 1/2 acres in a residential area close enough to or in a population center to have a HOA COSTS?!?!?

I'm glad to hear some of you can move on a whim over something like this, or when a tree destroys your walkway and driveway (twice) just write it off.

Hey, I don't like the slope of my yard! I think I'll MOVE!!! Too many dandelions? Just MOVE!!!

For crying out loud. A few hundred thousand dollars is not pocket change.

Richard.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

...but maybe it will take an irrational solution to quash an irrational worry.

...or an extraordinary solution to quash an extra-ordinary worry.

...depending on how you look at it.

(-;


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I would love to have a 100 year old specimen of a stately old native tree, especially if it is 100 feet away from the house. If it's native, it has tremendous wildlife value and mature trees also add value to the house and neighborhood. Now if it were a Norway maple, I'd be plotting its demise also, and I did have a buddy girdle one of my big ones - it was a slow death, taking about 16 months to completely die, and the girdling is very obvious. I have to admit the 50-60 year old Pin oak that is 20 feet away back of the house is getting a little annoying with all the crap it drops on the deck and roof, but I still love it, only wish I could snap my fingers and have it move farther away from the house!

The biggest problem with the tree I hear in the OP is the damage to the driveway/sidewalk. Perhaps you could root prune or use root killer on the roots that are heading towards the driveway, although I don't know if that would make the tree unstable. Talking to an arborist is a good idea. Personally I wouldn't much care about growing grass and would leave the nuts and leaves underneath to create a natural mulch and weed the seedlings in the gardens. Weeding is an inevitable part of gardening.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I can sympathize with having a tree you don't like and living in an HOA. We had a Black Walnut in the front yard that dropped dozens upon dozens of walnuts every day for more than a month. Last tree to leaf out, and first to lose them each year. Our yard looked like autumn in JULY. Dropped twigs and limbs all year round. I really couldn't stand that tree.

I was worried the HOA would deny the right to remove it, and I, too, admit to fantasizing about "discreet" ways of taking it out. LOL

Happily, when I finally asked them they said "Sure." No questions asked.

I was very, very nervous about moving into a neighborhood with an HOA. I called the director multiple times and asked a million questions before we made an offer on the house. But ours has been extremely cooperative about everything I've ever asked to do. On the one occasion I forgot to ask until a week before I had someone scheduled to build a patio, they pushed the approval through very quickly for me. I feel so lucky on this count. So, not all are bad.

We took out the Walnut, and this year we replaced it with the Chalk Bark Maple I just bought. :)


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

To the OP:

You never stated what kind of tree this is. There is perhaps a remote chance that it's a species listed as a noxious weed in your state or municipality, and as such technically shouldn't be grown, even though those laws are basically NOT enforced, ever to my knowledge.

Where I live, there is a short list of tree species as part of the bigger "noxious weed list" of things that you technically can't have on your property. The trees include the "usual suspects" Chinese Elm, Tree of Heaven, Black Mulberry, Boxelder, Buckthorn, etc.

It's worth checking out the list on the off chance to see if your tree is technically illegal where you are -- you never know, it just might be. If so, the HOA couldn't do much about you having it removed, since that would fall under the legal doctrine in contract law whereby a provision of a contract that is contrary to law or public policy CANNOT be enforced.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

>Personally I wouldn't much care about growing grass and
>would leave the nuts and leaves underneath to create a
>natural mulch

I'm guessing the HOA wouldn't like that either!


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

you could drill some *small* holes and inoculate the tree with mushrooms. There are many varieties commercially available. If an arborist sees mushroom growing out of the wood, that's sure to raise alarm.

Yes, exactly. If an arborist sees shiitake growing out of a tree in GA, they will need to quickly call the spouse to change dinner plans.

But seriously, only honey mushrooms would raise an alarm, and there are very few places to purchase an inoculum product. So you would be wasting your money if you inoculated with anything that is not a wood destroyer.

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I would leave it alone and cherish it.

However, since you won't do that, bring in an expert as many have suggested. Find one of the "cut it down it's dead" types. Once you pay him to certify it dead because it's winter and the leaves are brown, pay him to remove it and plant a better suited tree in it's place!

Cheapest, best, wildest, dumbest idea is to wire a lightening rod up to the tree way up high (camo all of it so no one knows) and let a Georgia thunder storm kill it for ya. :-)


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Sometimes people ask about how to kill a tree "discreetly" because it belongs to a neighbor.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 8, 10 at 14:28

Some kind of nut tree, apparently.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Probably an oak or a hickory - very common trees in Georgia. Not that they are not great trees, of course, but those would be my guesses based on description.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Stick a lightening rod to the tree and watch it explode from lightening strike.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

>But seriously, only honey mushrooms would raise an alarm, and there are very
>few places to purchase an inoculum product. So you would be wasting your
>money if you inoculated with anything that is not a wood destroyer.

Dan, can you clarify the distinction? Surely any mushroom subsisting on the wood of a tree is destroying some wood, correct? Is it just a matter of how aggressively/quickly the fungus destroys the wood?

Alex


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Many mushrooms have symbiotic relationships with trees. In fact most trees need a type of fungus in the root system to live at all. AFAIK; The vast majority of fungi / mushrooms are not going to attack living wood.

Jamie


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 10, 10 at 12:12

If you were able to bring Armillaria onto the site and got it to establish and develop it might persist indefinitely, eventually begin to destroy other trees and shrubs.

Although if there is a large grass area it might not be able to cross that. Forested sites have been found to contain single individuals that have cover acres, these, aspen trees and a creeping heath family plant that lives for centuries have all been publicized in the media as "World's Largest Living Thing" at various times.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Alex, do you really think giving your credit card # to Fungi Perfecti and picking up some, say, shiitake or portobello, then drilling spore plugs into the tree is going to do it? And if you somehow were able to get a decent wood destroyer, as bboy says the cure could be worse than the illness.

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Jamie,

I take it you're referring to mycorrhizal fungi? Symbiotic fungi are not subsisting on the wood, but rather on photosynthate provided by the tree through the roots. Certainly the kinds of mushrooms sold in kits which are used to inoculate fresh logs do not fall into that category.

I agree that in a "natural" situation, mushrooms are not going to invade healthy tree tissue, but I'm not sure what would stop them from growing in a tree when inoculated into a drilled hole. If they grow, they would be supporting themselves by digesting the wood.

Dan seems to be saying that for most kinds of mushrooms, the wood is not getting destroyed, so something is missing from my understanding of what mushrooms do, or my understanding of Dan's statement. I suspect he means that most mushrooms would destroy the wood so slowly that there is no real danger to the tree.

Alex


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?ii

Dan seems to be saying that for most kinds of mushrooms, the wood is not getting destroyed, so something is missing from my understanding of what mushrooms do, or my understanding of Dan's statement.

The erroneous presumption is that most edible mushrooms grow in and/or destroy wood. Especially live, healthy wood on an actively growing tree.

Thanks!

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Maybe the following explained to your association might be of help. After retiring from the horticultural/landscaping world some 20 years ago we moved into your area and I have served as chairman of the grounds committe on two large plantations. The whole ecology of what you are describing is not generally understood. I assume you are dealing with a mature Live Oak but the following pertains to any mature southern tree. A developer purchases a large tract of virgin land and carves it up into building lots. Most communities have tree codes which protect mature trees so the developer cleans out everything around them, builds a house and installs a lawn. Suddenly this solitary tree is surrounded by a hungry lawn and bereft of its former companions which dropped leaf litter which in turn cold composted into a mycorrhizae fungus type necessary for the tree's growth and upon which it has sustained itself for many years. Your tree is sending out surface feeding roots looking for nourishment. If your association really cares about its welfare they will give you permission to change the driveway location. So what if it does not fit their ideal of the neighborhood asthetics. To do otherwise is wrong.

I have dealt with this type of situation numerous times where preservation of a mature tree was desired. Three things have to happen:

1. The association has to give you relief either by relocating the driveway or allowing you to remove the blacktop and replacing it with stone.

2. You need to have an arborist work on the tree removing some of the weight on the branches and this will help to stop falling limbs. A common southern practice.

3. Because grass will not grow under the tree, plant Asiatic jasmine (Trachelosperimum asiaticum) which spreads into a ground cover that traps leaves and nuts. This is kept weed whacked back to a low carpet around the tree and controlled thus preventing the need to weed. An easy, minimal low maintenance landscaping solution.

Sadly, many planned communities are left with developer mistakes. If an association wishes to preserve the remaining trees it has to work with homeowner problems and resolve matters in the best interest of the trees. Your association is dead wrong in the way it is handling your situation.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Hope springs eternal in the human breast!

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast! "

...so long as the OP doesn't get a whack at that.
I'd put down even money now with nandina at the bat.

tj


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

>The erroneous presumption is that most edible mushrooms grow in and/or
>destroy wood. Especially live, healthy wood on an actively growing tree.

I'm still missing something.
I'm not talking about most edible mushrooms, I'm talking about the mushrooms whose spawn is sold in dowels for the purpose of growing mushrooms in wood. I've never tried such a product, but I presume they work.

My train of thought is: if those mushrooms are growing with wood as the only source of nutrients, they must be eating the wood, and therefore, destroying the wood. Am I mistaken?

A common concern in this forum is the phenomenon of decay organisms infesting wounds or pruning cuts on trees. I'm sure we've all seen this happen.

Is it really unlikely then that intentionally introducing fungi into a hole drilled into a tree will result in growth of those fungi? If so, I'd like to understand why, because it sounds like an interesting phenomenon on the part of the tree. Do you think they just wouldn't grow at all, or that they would grow so slowly that they wouldn't cause appreciable damage? As an arborist, would you be concerned if you saw mushrooms growing out of a tree?

BTW, I wouldn't pick shiitake or portobello....rather something more common like oyster mushrooms.

Alex


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I'd put down even money now with nandina at the bat.

Yes, my thoughts are closely aligned with Nandina - and I serve on the Board of a Metro District that manages the money of a large HOA, so I know how these things work. You want a professional plant person (P3) to make this case - a typical homeowner can't pull this off, esp if an intransigent HOA exists, and the Design Board is populated by the typical retired person who wants to ensure nothing radical is done to lower property values.

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 10, 10 at 19:49

And probably thinks removing specimen trees increases property values.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

You'd be surprised - I think inherently most get the signal that big trees = more desirable area. And cooler house, esp down there.

Dan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I too need to kill a tree... and plan on using some of the options mentioned here....NO PLAN TO MOVE....DUMB REMARK.... its where I would like something else.. its a damn ugly pine tree that drops thousand of needles and pine cones.. that I spend way to much time picking up....


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

I would never ever buy a home in an Home Owners Assoc development.

However if I were in such a situation and plotting to kill a protected tree, I would certainly not state this intention on the internet. I think it would be wisest to abandon any plans for hastening the demise of this tree, since you have already implicated yourself by the repeated requests to have it removed, together with posting this thread. I don't know what sort of penalties the HOA can levy against you if they decide you have committed arboricide or attempted arboricide, but I wouldn't want to find out by stacking more evidence against yourself. Perhaps it is time to embrace the tree, if moving is not an option?


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Assuming your not moving, and thinking outside the box:

-Get local hoodlums to spray paint the tree. I don't know how private the tree is, but I am assuming at 100 feet it is visible to other people, a big "(insert profanity)" spray painted on it would surely get some attention. I think it has worked before. I know around here they took down a tree covered in panties, so maybe you could fill it with shoes or something.This might be a little extreme but the premise is good, i.e. make the tree a nuisance to others.

If it came down to brass tacks, the only thing that assures its removal without fingers pointing at you, is to fill it with pests, the type that kill trees, like other trees that are VERY susceptible to diseases and one that will drain the life out of it. Not only would it suck the life out of the big tree, but you might get lucky and the tree gets sick and dies. Then when questions are asked, you say yeah I wanted it gone, but I just planted those trees because I wanted to cover it up to see something better. I didn't know it would kill it.

Personally, I would find out what the fine is for removing it. If they kick you out, so be it, it would probably be for best. If not, and the worst they can do is charge you a fine, then think about if it is worth it. I would gladly pay a fine up to a certain amount to remove a tree I dislike, especially if it can't be taken to court.


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

People aren't stupid...good luck with your plan


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

RyanStorm, I had to laugh at your suggestion to have hoodlums paint profanities on the tree! Yours is certainly the most creative suggestion!


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RE: How do I kill a very large tree discreetly?

Tordon RTU. Dig the sod at the base of the tree and peel it back from the base of the trunk very inconspicuous. Drill some holes below the surface of the earth into the wood, around tree very deep. then fill the holes with the blue liquid chemical called Tordon RTU. Lay the sod back down and wait. By the end of the summer you will witness a slow death which will seem as though it almost occurred naturally. It works. Bada Bing Bada Boom!


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