Living Among Tall Trees?
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    ToddM's Avatar
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    Living Among Tall Trees?

    I am clearing a lot for our first home building project. I have removed all of the large trees and will begin the process of stump removal followed by the builder breaking ground.

    My question is about living among tall mature Oak, Cherry, Maple and Poplar. These trees are about 100' tall some bigger. They have all been competing for light for the last 100 years so the branches don't begin until 50 or 60' up. Now that I have thinned them for a " wooded Lot" Will they fill in at the top? Do I run any risk of making the trees more prone to fall in a storm? I want to leave some of these huge trees close to the house for shade. What am I in store for?

    Any comments on this is much appreciated.

    Here's the lot. Notice the stumps up in there, that is where the house will set.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Brian's Avatar
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    From my experience with poplar, cut the all down around the home. They are not a long living tree and will fall over the easiest out of all of them you listed.

    The oak trees will start to branch out over time. You can help them along with some fertilizer and urea early in the spring. As they branch out the truncks will also fill in to support the extra branches up top.

    My other suggestion would be to cut anything down that shows any trunk issues or deformities that might mean hollow trunks.



    Brian

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    The trees in the posted photo all look pretty healthy. I'm with Brian, anything that doesn't look healthy, cut it down, otherwise my personal preference is to leave trees standing. It makes a huge difference in summer temperatures if your home receives a lot of shade. We have two large maples, about 60' tall, only 15' behind our house. Yeah, if a tornado comes through and blows them over we'll be needing a new house, but if a tornado comes through and the trees aren't there we'll be needing a new house anyway.

    My parents had a large oak in the backyard that was around 50' tall and with no branches for probably 25' up. It looked like a giant lollipop. It was in the backyard for over 20 years (since they built the house), and when we cut it down I seem to recall we counted 80 rings. I argued with my parents for over a year about cutting it, but my mom kept complaining about small branches that would occasionally fall off and land on the cover for a hot tub in the backyard. In the end I cut it down, but I complained the entire time. I like trees.
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    HydroHarold's Avatar
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    Tall trees, I got 'em. 2 white pines @85'+ in front of the house, 2 messy Norway maples in the center of the back yard and a 200 year old biiig red oak growing 50/50 on the back stone wall line with leaders overhanging most of my backyard. While I don't know where you live and what the usual 20 year average weather/wind conditions are... I myself don't like living under any trees anymore.

    In 17 years in this house* we've had wet snow, ice, lightning, mini-tornados/microburst/straight line winds ripping at the pines and listening to those big 8"-16" branches disconnecting and brushing off the front gutters and siding is pretty disconcerting at 4 AM!. IF you can figger the trees out so's the falldowns and break offs will miss your house, this is the perfect amount of shade you need. I'll go A/C longer in the summer to cover the shadeless heat if I don't have to stay awake all night in the winter! You can pay the electric company OR the tree guy, roof guy, house wall and siding guys. "Rustic" has it's practical limits where I live.

    NOT to mention all the crap that winds up in the roof valleys and gutters and the window wells. The maples and oak produce more varieties of "downfall" than I can count and it's always "upwind". Funny, but the pines are always upwind also. Needles, pinecones, little red things, seeds, pods, acorns, helicopter twirlers, green pollen you can write your name in on everything outside... Don't get me wrong, while I do love trees, they belong a fall distance and a half away from my house. Anything closer could and would go into the woodstove. I'd totally enjoy looking at all the rest though!

    My only problem is that I can not afford to have even the cheapest estimate tree guy take down even one of my pines. It's totally out of the financial question so they stay and I hope for "Westerly Winds" when it's gonna blow...

    *In the house before this one we somehow were the only house to sustain tornado damage in a 2 mile run of the funnel. Out of 30 50+ year old trees on the property only 5 survived and they were pretty much delimbed and damaged.
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    I agree with Brian about the Poplar trees and most like to break easily in storms. I would also say try to keep your house out from under any type of tree as the tree will make a mess out of your roof.
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    rgd
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    Quote Originally Posted by HydroHarold View Post
    Tall trees, I got 'em. 2 white pines @85'+ in front of the house, 2 messy Norway maples in the center of the back yard and a 200 year old biiig red oak growing 50/50 on the back stone wall line with leaders overhanging most of my backyard. While I don't know where you live and what the usual 20 year average weather/wind conditions are... I myself don't like living under any trees anymore.

    In 17 years in this house* we've had wet snow, ice, lightning, mini-tornados/microburst/straight line winds ripping at the pines and listening to those big 8"-16" branches disconnecting and brushing off the front gutters and siding is pretty disconcerting at 4 AM!. IF you can figger the trees out so's the falldowns and break offs will miss your house, this is the perfect amount of shade you need. I'll go A/C longer in the summer to cover the shadeless heat if I don't have to stay awake all night in the winter! You can pay the electric company OR the tree guy, roof guy, house wall and siding guys. "Rustic" has it's practical limits where I live.

    NOT to mention all the crap that winds up in the roof valleys and gutters and the window wells. The maples and oak produce more varieties of "downfall" than I can count and it's always "upwind". Funny, but the pines are always upwind also. Needles, pinecones, little red things, seeds, pods, acorns, helicopter twirlers, green pollen you can write your name in on everything outside... Don't get me wrong, while I do love trees, they belong a fall distance and a half away from my house. Anything closer could and would go into the woodstove. I'd totally enjoy looking at all the rest though!

    My only problem is that I can not afford to have even the cheapest estimate tree guy take down even one of my pines. It's totally out of the financial question so they stay and I hope for "Westerly Winds" when it's gonna blow...

    *In the house before this one we somehow were the only house to sustain tornado damage in a 2 mile run of the funnel. Out of 30 50+ year old trees on the property only 5 survived and they were pretty much delimbed and damaged.
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    glc
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    From my experience with poplar, cut the all down around the home. They are not a long living tree and will fall over the easiest out of all of them you listed.
    Totally agree. I had 4 out of 6 Poplar die in the 15 years we've been here.Fortunately they were along the pasture and nowhere near the house. I ended up cutting them all down.

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    HydroHarold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Totally agree. I had 4 out of 6 Poplar die in the 15 years we've been here.Fortunately they were along the pasture and nowhere near the house. I ended up cutting them all down.

    Greg
    Poplars are one of many "pioneer trees" which grow quickly to fill in after old hardwoods and evergreens are removed or burned out. They are seeded by the wind and animals/birds and all of 'em are softwoods. They hold the land down and prepare a perfect habitat for the hardwoods to take hold and grow very slowly until they choke out the pioneers. Some poplars planted for windbreaks last a good while, but they do reach a maturity and then die off eventually. They make poor firewood... which is what I judge all trees by nowadays.

    I often wonder about the hybrid poplars you see for sale in plant catalogs. They're supposed to grow 10' a year. I'll bet they'll do just as all the non-hybrids do and die or fall over in 20+ years. They look real good in the glossy catalog pages though...

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    Ditto on the poplar...

    You have beautiful trees! I side with cutting the least number possible.

    Keep an eye out for the soft maple if you have any near by as well, they rot in "Y"'s of the larger branches and don't have a good strength to weight ratio in general.

    As far as bushing out/filling in... The soft/hard maple and cherry will start to fill in at lower heights where they are exposed to sun, oaks will too but they're really slow. The tops will fill in with time but you may have increased plant growth on the forest floor that requires maintainance. Forests evolve to use all available light. They skirt the forest with low foliage at the edges and fill in the canopy at the tops (if the existing trees can't, a new one grows there to do just that).

    'No mention of fire prevention elsewhere so I'll bring it up. Allow a break around the house from the trees and brush or you have a undefendable position in a forest fire. That said, you have a beautiful build site... enjoy the woods while your its steward!

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    ToddM's Avatar
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    I've thinned a lot more trees. I'm going to take down about 6 more that could fall on the house. Here is a photo of the lot now......and the new house.



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