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yrdandgardenhandyman
04-14-2005, 01:15 AM
I have a client who wants me to put landscape border stone and mulch, in a ring around some small trees. The stone she wants, would have to be dug in about 4 inches as she wants them at grass level for the mower so no trimming will be required. Approximately 8' tall, all of them. One is a maple, one is a Blue Spruce, one is a White Birch and one is an Ash. I probed around the base of the trees and all seemed ok to go except the Ash. There are roots very close to the surface. I mean a lot of them, radiating in all directions from the trunk. I would have to cut these roots at about 3 feet from the trunk to install the border. I mentioned my concern and she said "Don't worry about it. If the tree dies, it dies." My question is, what is the probable harm from cutting these roots? My second question, even if the tree might die and the customer says do it anyway, should I do it anyway?

Rtom45
04-14-2005, 08:11 AM
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, now or later. If client insists on the work, ask them to sign a release and specify that you advised against it. If the tree(s) doesn't die this season, it may blow over in a storm later on. An option might be to put in a larger circle so you aren't cutting surface roots.

sheshovel
04-14-2005, 09:27 AM
well she's not making a whole lot of sense.. if she wants the stone at grass level,what's supposed to hold the mulch back around the trees?
if you cant see them and they are not there to hold back mulch what's the point of using them at all?
All of these trees have surface feeder roots and In my opinion it will do damage to all of them.
Also you don't want to mulch very close to the trunks and if your only going out 3'and you leave the mulch properly a foot away from the trunks that leaves just 2'diameter of mulch so your not really doing anything to help the tree's as far as mulching goes because the root systems extent way beyond that.
I would probably suggest a flatter stone and that you go at least 4' to 6' around the trees with the mulch lines(not including the 1' left away from trunk.Or AS above,have her sign something saying your not responsible for the loss of the tree's and have somebody wittness her sign it too.

northwest lawn
04-15-2005, 11:52 PM
if the roots do get cut trim the tree enought to make up for what was lost with the root being cut. this keeps the tree in balance. the whole root to shoot ratio. tree should keep alive and kicking if you trim.

Neal Wolbert
04-16-2005, 02:16 AM
I totally disagree with the last post. Cutting back the canopy will just reduce photosynthesis weakening the tree and cause more stress on the roots, not less. Anyone agree? Neal

sheshovel
04-16-2005, 05:49 AM
I agree totaly .It will stress the tree even more.

Coffeecraver
04-16-2005, 08:11 AM
I also agree with Rtom45If client insists on the work, ask them to sign a release and specify that you advised against it. If the tree(s) doesn't die this season, it may blow over in a storm later on. An option might be to put in a larger circle so you aren't cutting surface roots.

Roots typically will be found growing a distance of 1-3 times the height of the tree. The amount of damage a tree can suffer from root loss depends, in part, upon how close to the tree the cut is made. Severing one major root can cause the loss of 5-20% of the root system.The roots of a tree will extend far from the trunk and will be found mostly in the upper 6 to 10 inches of the soil.

Another problem that may result from root loss is that the potential for the trees to fall over is increased. The roots play a critical role in anchoring a tree. If the major support roots are cut on one side of a tree, the tree may fall or blow over.

Cutting large roots close to the trunk inflicts much
more structural injury than cutting smaller roots near or
beyond the drip line. Cutting roots on one side of a tree
may lead to acute decline or death of only that half of the
tree.
Symptoms resulting from the cutting of roots are
similar to symptoms produced by other types of site
disturbance. There is a progressive decline of the tree.
Early
symptoms of decline include leaves becoming smaller
in size, early fall coloration, premature defoliation, and
dieback of twigs and progressively larger branches
beginning in the upper crown and moving downward.
Sucker growth may become more prolific on the trunk
and larger branches. Decline usually progresses from
the top to the bottom of the tree. Leaf or needle drop
may begin within the canopy near the trunk and progress
outward, indicating a stressed tree which may be
suffering from a root disease or disorder. Despite
therapeutic intervention, most trees affected by decline
eventually die.
Neal Wolbert is right on target with this answer.
I totally disagree with the last post. Cutting back the canopy will just reduce photosynthesis weakening the tree and cause more stress on the roots, not less.

If you build these rings and fill them with mulch you will be in fact raising the grade.
Adding soil will produce near anaerobic
conditions that often result in suffocation of the roots.
The degree of suffocation is directly related to the depth
of soil added.

The correct answer is that this job should not be done.
However if it is to be done the release form needs to be signed.

If it is wrong ,and you know it is wrong, is it still worth the money?

redoak77
04-16-2005, 07:40 PM
If u can, try to get ur hands on the Tree Services Magazine (Same people that do Turf) because they had a big section on this a couple of months ago and outlined all the major stuff

Adamma Landscape Group
04-17-2005, 01:56 AM
You are the contractor and the expert that is why the customer hired you. If you cut the roots and the tree dies the customer will sue you. When you get a project and the customers tries to tell you what to do and you know it is incorrect just walk away and do not sign the contract. If you do quality work you will get tons of work.

northwest lawn
04-17-2005, 01:44 PM
my post came directly out of my arboriculture class so believe it or not its the truth.

northwest lawn
04-17-2005, 01:48 PM
the roots also dont go out much farther than the width of the canopy. but that also depends on the type of the tree. with the roots being cut, cutting back the canopy keeps it in balance. with less roots means less nutrient, water absorption, and with trimming back the canopy would keep it in balance because with the less water, nutrient absorption would cut back on photosynthesis leaving the tree in balance

Coffeecraver
04-17-2005, 03:14 PM
the roots also dont go out much farther than the width of the canopy. but that also depends on the type of the tree. with the roots being cut, cutting back the canopy keeps it in balance. with less roots means less nutrient, water absorption, and with trimming back the canopy would keep it in balance because with the less water, nutrient absorption would cut back on photosynthesis leaving the tree in balance


Spoken like a true grasscutter,stick to cutting grass

:rolleyes:

Neal Wolbert
04-17-2005, 03:19 PM
It's seems right in our non-tree minds to think that way but I believe the thinking is wrong. First, tree roots usually extend well beyond the dripline. If you have ever seen air spading done on a hardwood tree, you would know what I mean. I've seen active feeder roots extending at least 50% of the distance between the trunk and the dripline, beyond the dripline. Try to picture a wine glass on a dinner plate and you have the right perspective of root to crown ratio. Secondly, if you trim any branch the tree will begin sprouting to replace the tissue...more stress, not less and the tree will sprout and grow more leaves (needles) than in had before pruning. Third, you open wounds that can invite problems. Who determines how much to cut off if we use your line of thinking? Say the roots are cut back closer to the trunk than the dripline, just how much canopy do you trim back since you really don't know how far the roots extend? Just to the dripline (are you sure you pruned enough)? Maybe you'd just thin a bit...how much? Do you cut back to the main branches? To the ground would probably be the best in the long run! Your teaching not withstanding, I'd encourage you to look for a consensus of opinions before you act. Scholarship always helps. Bring someone in with better credentials than you and pay for an opinion. Hanging out on your own won't help much if the tree dies. Neal

northwest lawn
04-17-2005, 04:02 PM
i just dont cut grass i have a landscape/turfgrass degree so believe it or not i know what im talking about.

sheshovel
04-17-2005, 05:43 PM
i just dont cut grass i have a landscape/turfgrass degree so believe it or not i know what im talking about.

Well for what it's worth,I don't know how old the info in your class is being used because it is wrong.
Degree's don't mean a thing if your taught old ideas and methods.
Any good recient info on tree's and scientific data will tell you that cutting back to balance out root to canopy ratio is outdated information.It's no longer recommended. :blob3:

It will also tell you that a tree's roots extend way beyond the canopy,not just some tree's,ALL tree's.
So you might want to get your money back for that education because it is old school!Sorry to inform you you are dispersing wrong information :D

northwest lawn
04-17-2005, 06:44 PM
just out of curiousity what type of degree do u possess?

Neal Wolbert
04-18-2005, 02:37 AM
northwest lawn- May I present Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Wash. State Univ. researcher as a proponent of NOT pruning a canopy to "balance" the root to shoot ratio, whatever that is. http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott

Click on the "myths" link on the left and read about B&B planting problems. You will find some pretty hard to deny recommendations from this well known Dr. as you read on.
Neal

sheshovel
04-18-2005, 04:11 AM
just out of curiousity what type of degree do u possess?

I have a masters in life science :p