Wild cedar trees

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Paja, May 31, 2019.

  1. Paja

    Paja Member

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    Hi, I hope this is the right place to post this!
    We have a cabin right beside a lake and we have 3 wild cedar trees in front of the cabin. The last few years they have started to get straggly. We have done some renos to the cabin and property including putting on gutters, improving the drainage (the lot was very wet before) and putting paving bricks in front of the cabin. At this time of year the lake is usually very high so the roots on the water side get well soaked.

    I have wondered why the trees have fewer branches than before and the last few years I have watered them with a soaker hose, but probably not as much as I could have. Could the cement patio cause problems? And is watering a good idea? How about fertilizer? We really love these trees and don´t want to lose them. Thanks for any advice you can give me!
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  3. Paja

    Paja Member

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    Thanks for your quick reply, Daniel!
    You can see that they are VERY close. The roots of the far cedar always grow up into the planter box and we have to take them out every year to plant. Not a good idea?
    Another factor this year is that the water is not going to be nearly as high as usual. Normally the lake comes within about a foot vertically of the trees.
     

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  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    So, for the two trees on the end, about 40% of their root area has been impacted, I'd guess. The one in the middle, almost 100%. This will be a combination of decreased oxygenation to the roots and reduced water to the plants, and ends up being expressed above ground as foliage loss (the trees simply can't sustain the mass above ground that they used to). I'm not an arborist, but I think you'd be looking at the middle one dying and the other two going into decline if the situation remains as-is.

    (there is a photo of how shallow the roots of western red cedars are here: Monday, August 1 – Crystal Cove Beach Resort, Tofino, B.C. )

    As for remedies, I don't think there's much to be done about the tree in the middle. The ones in the end will benefit from increased watering, but is that sustainable long-term?
     
  5. Paja

    Paja Member

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    Thanks again!!
    I see what you mean about the roots.
    We are here much of Spring, Summer and Fall, so I think it is sustainable.
    Does it make any difference that there is no mortar between the bricks? So water does go down the cracks.
    If I do water, should I water the drip line? Or vary the soaker hose between close in a far out?
    Any point in fertilzing?
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The decreased oxygen to the roots will have caused root dieback (the cells of plants need oxygen to live like our own), so the effect of the paving stones will be similar to the effect of fluid on our lungs when we have a respiratory illness. The root dieback will also limit the potential of the plant to uptake water.

    For watering, concentrate on the drip line and 2-3m back toward the tree from it.

    Fertilizer won't do much, I don't think, but others may have suggestions.
     
  7. Paja

    Paja Member

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    We have had the patio for about 10 years and only noticed the thinning in the last 2 or 3. Is that cause for hope? If not, I guess we have a big decision to make!
    Thanks very much!
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Thuja plicata is the dominant climax tree in swamps within its native area, if it were me I would attempt to address probable significant soil dryness problems on your site without maintaining a concern about adding to a construction generated oxygen deprivation phenomenon (with trees in general the usual issue with adding soil or other layers of material is how it suddenly reduces their access to precipitation, with for instance that percentage of the annual total occurring as things like fog drip no longer being available. Because it does not penetrate deeply, yet was accessible to the tree when it had roots immediately below the surface of the soil). All the more so because you didn't start seeing a deterioration until the same recent years where damage to native trees related to Climate Change has been showing up noticeably in our region. Of course, it's not going to be possible for anyone to identify precisely all of the factors that may be present there without making an in person inspection.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
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  9. Paja

    Paja Member

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    Thank you both very much. We have realized that pulling up the bricks and building a raised wooden deck is not an option, so for now I think I will try watering them very regularly and see how they look next year. I suppose we could accept it if the middle one dies, but would really hate to lose them all. I really appreciate your input.
     

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