can Box Elder be saved, or must it go ?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by thrashed200m, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. thrashed200m

    thrashed200m LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I realize they are considered 'trash' trees, but the large Box Elder in my side yard is the only shade on my ( un-airconditioned ) house. It's perhaps 24" diameter, perhaps 50 ft tall, unknown age. It has a split in the trunk, with soft wood in the crease, which I guess is typical. We normally get several episodes of 40 mph winds per year, summer and/or winter, and I'm obviously concerned about it coming down - it's about 25 ft from the house.
    Would a significant trimming, cutting back all the significant limbs to perhaps 10 ft. from the trunk, get enough weight off the tree to allow me to keep it a few more years ? Experience shows the tree would bush out again very rapidly, and I'm wondering if I could end up with a less-risky tree that can stay for a while yet. Other than the trunk split, it seems extremely healthy - grows at an unbelievable rate.
    My neighbor just removed a couple of huge old Walnuts, and I already miss the shade and privacy from them, and hate to lose all my remaining shade and privacy if I can avoid it.
    Any advice appreciated. My youngest is 6, and plays in his treehouse and on his swings constantly, and as you can tell, I'd like to forestall the inevitable for a few years if I can.
  2. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,697

    A box elder that size is more than likely at the end of it's useful life. They are weak, as you already know. I wouldn't take a chance with it near my house. I'd remove it and replace it with something else. You are only delaying the inevitable by pruning it back. However, if you do prune it to delay removing it for a few years, consider planting some trees NOW, so that they have at least a few years growth to catch up to provide some shade.
  3. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Yes, you should be planting replacements now.
  4. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    I agree with the above statements.
    But a box elder can survive and thrive with drastic pruning. So weigh the pro and cons and maybe prune the side facing the house so that if wind or something gets it that it likely to fall away from the house. Or just have your home owners ins. paid up
  5. thrashed200m

    thrashed200m LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I think I'll plant a replacement, as suggested, and prune it waay back, and if it bushes out smaller, great. If it doesn't then it's time for the Stihl.
    In FIngerlakes NY, rocky soil, what non-pine grows fast and shades well ?
    Your basic Silver Maple, or something else ? I'm 43, and no plans to sell the house for decades.
  6. grasswhacker

    grasswhacker LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,873

    Might try a hybird Elm or Poplar. They are fast growers when established.

Share This Page