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Big Live Oak Needs Serious Trimming - Could Use Some Advice!

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by bulletpruf, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    All -

    Closing on a house in a week. The day after closing we'll have trucks and heavy equipment showing up to do some work in the yard. Would like them to be able to get to the back of the driveway, but there are live oak limbs that are about 7' or 8' over the driveway.

    I would like to take down these limbs, but they're quite big - the biggest is about 18" diameter. The tree itself is 24" diameter at the base.

    You can see from the pictures below exactly what I have to work with.

    Bottom line -- can I take the big lower limb down without really risking killing the tree? Also, what should I do with the rest of it? I plan to hire a crew to thin it out and clean it up a little bit, but how would you go about it? Also, is this the right time of the year for this kind of work?

    FYI - the tree also has some serious overhang on the neighbor's property. The edge of my driveway is the property line, so there's a lot of the limbs on this side of the tree hanging over his property.

    Thanks!

    Scott

    IMG_0491 (2).jpg IMG_0492 (1).jpg IMG_0494 (1).jpg IMG_0496.jpg IMG_0497.jpg
     
  2. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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  3. Del_

    Del_ Get outside.

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    Looks like you are planning on destroying a beautiful live oak.

    What a shame.
     
  4. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    How would I be destroying it? Would this eventually kill the tree?
     
  5. rayjay257

    rayjay257 ArboristSite Operative

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    I would cut the whole dang thang down and get it out of your life. 20 years from now you or the person living in this house will be hating this tree .
     
  6. Del_

    Del_ Get outside.

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    I believe you would be lowering the real estate value of both properties.

    The tree is an asset worth preserving and the changes you are talking about making are drastic.
     
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  7. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    I do not think we will be hating the tree. Growing up we always had a huge live oak in the front yard. Loved 'em.
     
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  8. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    I agree that the tree is an asset worth preserving. However, the large limbs over the driveway limit access to the back of the driveway and as the big limb gets heavier, it will continue to drop. It also encroaches on the neighbor's property. Cutting this long limb off should also provide more resources for the dominant limb, right?

    As for thinning out the top a bit, as I understand it, that will make the tree healthier, as long as it's done right. What I saw from some research online is you shouldn't take more than 1/3 (another site said 10%) from the canopy at a time.

    Thanks
     
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  9. rayjay257

    rayjay257 ArboristSite Operative

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    Then start cutting. A large number of limbs have fallen or been cut off this tree in it's lifetime. You can see many of the wounds in the pics. You have to have access to the back of the house so start cutting. It would be interesting to have a conversation with your new neighbor about this tree to see how he feels about it and what the prior occupants of this house thought about it. Also get some history of the property and the tree.

    I did some looking on the web and having the driveways so close to the tree is not desirable. If the tree was out in the middle of the yard then I wouldn't recommend felling it but it's location is less than ideal. I'm also probably much older and have gotten fed up with the 'battle of the leaves' I have to deal with every fall and winter. I didn't see where these trees bust up the driveway so maybe that's one bonus, although,,,, how old is the driveway ? Something else your new neighbor could give insight on.
     
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  10. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    I do need to speak with the neighbor about it. I suspect he's not a big fan of it hanging over his property, but I could be wrong.

    With it being a live oak, leaves aren't that bad.

    Forgot about the possibility that the roots will bust up the driveway. I suspect the driveway is 30 years old, just like the house.

    thanks
     
  11. rayjay257

    rayjay257 ArboristSite Operative

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    The house across the street has just been sold for the 2nd time in about 18 months. The original occupants sold it for $186,000. The new owners dropped $20k in it right off the bat on the inside and then after about maybe a year they decided to sell and they got $230,ooo. Then multiple white vans started showing up in the drive EVERY DAY for at least a month. I can't imagine how much the new owners have spent. Then last week the tree guys showed up and took down a LOT of large pines , poplars, etc.

    Here is the killer. There is a gnarly pair of pines in the front yard. One of them terribly busted up the driveway. The original owner broke up the drive with a sledge hammer and put the pieces in the shallow drainage ditch in the front yard at the street. He then put gravel down where he removed the concrete. So the drive is concrete at the street, gravel in the middle and then concrete on up to the house. The new owners are NOT removing the pine that damaged the drive so I guess they are not redoing the driveway. The yard has been destroyed by all the white vans parking on it plus the track loader the tree guys used. Plus, it's rained a ton this past few months so the yard is super soft. It will be interesting to see how it all develops.
     
  12. Natster

    Natster ArboristSite Operative

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    Well, just a few thoughts. If you are going to do this cut job yourself....
    Cut each limb 2x. Once out 2' or 3' away from the main trunk. Cut from the bottom first. Cut about 1/4 to 1/3 way through, and quit. Then cut from top down, and an inch or two closer to main trunk, than 1st cut. This prevents bark stripping from remaining portion.
    Then cut off the short piece. It'll turn out neater. Once again, cut a bit on bottom 1st.
    Also, talk w neighbor 1st. Good neighbors are worth a lot too.
    Just for your idea pile.
    Nate
     
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  13. The Singing Arborist

    The Singing Arborist ArboristSite Member

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    I admit, I don't have experience with live oak, as we don't really have it here in Utah. But it looks like the appeal in this tree comes from its low hanging and long reaching branches. Once you take these branches off, the tree won't put them back on and the look will be changed forever. Plus, removing a large limb will open the tree for decay, wich will weaken the tree after 5-10 years...no way to prevent that.

    That being said...this is your yard and you have to set it up in a way you want it. Selective trimming can promote health, lighten weight, and lower liabilities when done correctly. It also doesn't look possible to get more clearance for your driveway without removing that big branch. That branch is just going to grow and make this situation worse. This really looks like an awesome tree put in the wrong spot.

    If you do take out that lowest branch, take only that one. Don't thin the canopy above at the same time as removing more foliage will stress the tree further.
     
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  14. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Ray is not an arborist. If you want to keep the tree listen to Del.
    If your going to take that 18” limb off you might as well take the whole tree down because you will be creating a future hazard.
    Is there another way to get in the back yard and avoid damage to the tree?
     
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  15. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    Nate -

    Thanks for the advice. If I end up taking the branch off, that's how I'll do it.

    Scott
     
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  16. bulletpruf

    bulletpruf ADVANCED CAD!

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    Yes, the appeal of a live oak is the low hanging and long reaching branches. I also have about 8 live oaks in the back yard of varying sizes, including one that's a fair bit bigger than this one.

    I definitely agree that it's an awesome tree in a not-so awesome spot.

    There's no other way to get to the back yard unless I use my neighbor's driveway, and then I have to deal with my driveway (adjacent to his) being 8" to 10" higher. Worried about cracking the my driveway if I drive a skid steer or an excavator from his driveway to mine.

    I'm a bit torn on removing the branch, but as you stated, it's just going to get worse. And it's also way over the property line, too, which is another consideration. I haven't met my neighbor yet (we don't close on the house until Thursday), but if he wants the limb off his property, I at least have to trim it back so it don't reach over the property line.

    I'll see if I can find a work-around for the time being and kick the can down the road for a bit. Having said that, you're not supposed to trim live oaks after 1 February, so I really need to make up my mind soon.

    Thanks,

    Scott
     
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  17. rayjay257

    rayjay257 ArboristSite Operative

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    The heck with your drive, how about possible damage to your new neighbor's pavement ? No way I am imposing on a new neighbor in this way until we've gotten to know each other better. Don't want to poison the relationship right off the bat.
     

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