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greywynd
04-08-2005, 11:40 PM
I'm looking for some advice from you 'tree guys' arborists, botanists, or whoever else can help me out with this one. I have a yard that is more or less a 'bowl' that is, there is no natural drain, it's a heavy thick clay soil, so drains poorly if at all. I installed a tile drain into the 'lowest' corner that works excellent, and has improved it 10 times over what it used to be. I think that it can be improved further though by adding more material at the end opposite the tile drain, tapering it down towards the drain, creating a better slope to help with the runoff. The big problem is that there are 2 large Maple trees in the middle of all of this that we are trying not to hurt in any way. I know that placing large amounts of fill around a tree hurts and will eventually kill it, but what about adding a couple inches every couple of years? Does this allow the tree roots to grow into the new soil, so they don't get killed off? My background is mostly construction and hardscaping, but most of the time any of the projects I do are far enough away from the trees that they are safe from impact. Any thoughts or words of advice would be appreciated, or if you have more questions, don't be afraid to ask.

Thanks,
Mark

Neal Wolbert
04-09-2005, 01:17 AM
If soil is added to this site and it is an easily drained type you will not change the way the property drains now. The runoff will percolate through the light soil onto the heavy soil and run off into the drain you built just like it does now. If you added more soil of the same texture and structure as the soil now on site you would change the surface drainage relative to the amount of added soil and slope created. In either case, any more than 2-3" of soil per year on the maple roots would be too much in my opinion with absolutely none touching the trunk or stem, ever. The roots will migrate up to the soil surface more easily if you add lighter soil, slower with heavy soil. Why do you want to add soil in the first place? Just to improve surface drainage, or will you be planting something? If you plant grass the tree roots will suffer even more. If you really want to help the trees, mulch the entire root system with real compost 2-3" deep and forget the soil. Neal

greywynd
04-09-2005, 01:39 AM
There is grass there now, and yes, thinking about it, it's primarily to improve the surface drainage. One area took a month longer than the rest of the lawn to dry out last year, then it was so wet part of the time after some rains midsummer that I had to use the walkbehind or trimmer to cut it, the ground was too saturated to use anything else. These are mature trees, about 24-30" dia trunks. I also plan on doing some grading in another area to direct some other runoff away from this area, this should help reduce the runoff that collects around the trees by about 30-40%.

Thanks again,
Mark

Neal Wolbert
04-09-2005, 02:12 AM
Mark, I'd do everything I could to transform this site into landscape plants or well drained hardscape, i.e. gravel paths, paver patio area(s) with shrubs and boulders and forget the grass. I'll bet the trees are suffering from root rot already and suggest you have an arborist take root sample from the wet areas and have them tested for fungus. Well chosen shrubs will take up surface water and help transform the site. Got a picture or two of the site? Neal

greywynd
04-09-2005, 10:30 AM
I don't have any pictures, but I can try to take some over the weekend. It's really a shame the local officials had allowed for this to happen, the natural drainage was blocked when they allowed a commercial shop to be developed next door. Unfortunately I bought the property after this had happened, and have no recourse. I'm hoping to preserve the trees, but, if it doesn't happen, I'll remove them, fill the area to the grade it should be, and start over. I just hate to have to cut these trees down if I don't have to. To fill the area to correct grade would require 2-3 feet of fill, I know that will kill the trees, and I'm doing what I can to avoid it.

Thanks again,
Mark

northwest lawn
04-09-2005, 04:20 PM
if you are going to raise the grade u need to vertical mulch around the trees so the roots wont die off to poor gass exhange take and bore holes 3" in diameter 12-18 down and fill with mulch this will help with the gas exchange then the roots will grow up into the new layer of soil

sheshovel
04-09-2005, 06:36 PM
I do think you have recourse,if city officialy blocked the natural drainage that allowed water to leave the property and now it does not.They must fix it no matter when you bought the home.And this should have been revealed to you before the deal went through.Now your trees are in danger of dieing and it is their responsibility .So no matter what you decide to do,document it and take pics and have conversations with the building dept,or whomever caused this problem that obvously was not a problem before.

Kate Butler
04-09-2005, 08:25 PM
How much do you want the grade near the trees to change? You could always go with a couple of tree wells and bring up your grade around them.

greywynd
04-10-2005, 02:06 AM
Tree well? Can't say I'm familiar with that term. I'd be afraid of the thing filling with water in heavy rains or during spring run-off.....maybe you can explain to me what they are exactly?
I think I mentioned earlier, I don't usually get this close to the trees to be a problem, and this situation is a little different than most.

Mark

greywynd
04-10-2005, 02:21 AM
I do think you have recourse,if city officialy blocked the natural drainage that allowed water to leave the property and now it does not.They must fix it no matter when you bought the home.And this should have been revealed to you before the deal went through.Now your trees are in danger of dieing and it is their responsibility .So no matter what you decide to do,document it and take pics and have conversations with the building dept,or whomever caused this problem that obvously was not a problem before.

Well, this particular property was developed without the proper consent from the municipality (unfortunately I learned this after the fact). As I see it, they didn't pursue or fully enforce the laws for that, so I think that anything that I could do would be an expensive and probably futile attempt. Now, it might get interesting this year, because with the installation of a new septic system, and some additional fill last year, it would be a relatively easy matter to divert most of the runoff back to the route of the original course (which would pretty much let it run in the back overhead door, and out the front one). With the owner of the property trying to accuse our horses of 'contaminating' his well (the health unit laughed at him when he suggested it), it could become an interesting summer. I'm not interested in doing anything immoral or otherwise, if he was/is willing to work with me, we can change some grading (open grass field in both cases) and change the drainage on both properties, and much for the better IMO. I (along with all the surrounding neighbours) keep hoping that he'll sell, we figure we can't get anything worse to deal with......I actually heard through a friend that he's far enough behind on his taxes that it may be coming up for sale for arrears......if that's the case, I'll have to see what the price is.... :)

sheshovel
04-10-2005, 03:59 AM
How much do you want the grade near the trees to change? You could always go with a couple of tree wells and bring up your grade around them.

What is ment by that is to build up block,or brick or wood wells around the boles of the trees about 5' or more away and then fill the outside up to grade,making sure you leave spaces in the bottom sides for water to drain.

For your situation it may be your only chance of saving them.But I think they would still smother under the fill unless your wells were very very large circles.Maples do have very aggressive root systems so ??

Kate Butler
04-10-2005, 10:14 AM
If tree wells wouldn't work for you (and with horses, they might be a hazard that they could step in) - do you have enough property to just berm it along your property line so the water can't come through?