Will topping and pruning a redwood slow root growth?

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by ArrogantMouse, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. ArrogantMouse

    ArrogantMouse New Member

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    I have a 10.5 m high approx. 18-y-o redwood tree (unknown variety, age estimated from age of house) growing on my property line and beside the concrete driveway and asphalt road. I have had to trim the lower branches to keep access open to my driveway.

    The roots are causing the driveway and road to buckle, and a brick lamp post <2m from the trunk is dangerously close to toppling. I want to avoid cutting the tree down if possible.

    This fall I cut the branches from the top 2m of the tree and shortened some remaining upper branches by approximately 1/3 of their length, hoping to slow the growth. I will have to hire a tree company to use a lift truck to cut off the 2m spire as it is too heavy for me. While they are at it, I was thinking of having many of the branches pruned by maybe 1/4 of their length, though in a way that looks pleasing.

    My question is, if my only reason for the pruning is to slow root growth, would it be worth the extra $200 to have them prune the tree when removing the spire? Another question contingent on the first is, would it be more effective to remove, say another 3 m (i.e., the top half of the tree)? If it turns out the best solution is to remove the tree altogether, I'll remove all the branches then invest that money in having them cut the trunk down; but I'd really like to keep the tree so I'm trying to weigh options.
     
  2. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Sounds like the wrong tree in the wrong place, unfortunately. Any of the proposed remedies would create even bigger problems, in addition to those you are already having (which will continue). Invest the money in removing it, and replace it with a more suitable tree or shrub.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  3. MarkVIIIMarc

    MarkVIIIMarc Active Member

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    Seconded.

    Topping it will only create a wider growing, fat trunked tree with rot in the top.

    On the plus side, there are a bazillion cultivars of conifers and even redwoods which grow slower than the main species with all sorts of interesting foliage.

    Also, I have some Thujas in a place where six or seven years from now they will need removed. Still better to get sixteen years of enjoyment than none.
     
  4. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    What you already did, and what you suggested merely make it into a big practically uncontrollable hedge. May as well plan to start taking hedge shears to it if you cut the limbs to 1/4 the length.

    There could be, or could have been, better options like proper pruning and root barriers installed, but without seeing the tree, there's no point to make a strong sales pitch of that.

    Those can be come huge trees and really need plenty of space. to grow.
     
  5. ArrogantMouse

    ArrogantMouse New Member

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    Thanks for the replies; I haven't been able to find other info on the internet that directly relates to my situation. I think I'll cut it down. Whoever planted it didn't make any allowances for the size it has and will become.

    I'm sure there are no root barriers, but even if there were, its the roots near the tree that are cracking and heaving the concrete of my and the neighbour's driveways and the asphalt of the adjacent road. Further Googling did reveal that the 1m dbh trunk is about right for a 19-y-o redwood, and it will just get larger. Wonder if there's any market for a redwood log, to off-set the cost of cutting it down. [btw, I was considering cutting off 1/4 of the length of the branches, not leaving 1/4 of the length--regardless, it would be an ongoing problem, and I have had to prune heavily already just to keep my driveway open.]

    MarkVIIIMarc's mention of Thujas is relevant for me too. Late last summer I topped a 7-9m high W red cedar hedge the same age as the redwood--35 trees. I cut them down to 5m then pruned the ends of the branches that sweep up higher than the cut trunks so they won't become leaders. I did that without researching it first and have since learned that my approach would cause arborists to pull their hair out. But I think cedars are more forgiving than most other trees.

    I used a tar- or asphalt-type pruning paste to seal the tops of the trunks to prevent rot. I also cut all the interior dead branches and will continue pruning the outsides to the size I want. Perhaps the green sprigs at the branch intersections will grow to fill in the bare 1-2 m from the trunk, but if not that's okay. It looks good from the ground, and our neighbour likes it better now too. I guess time will tell.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    In future do not paint pruning cuts with tar.
     
  7. Zeb Haney

    Zeb Haney Member

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    As an alternative to removal, you may want to look into some driveway repair options. There are courses of action that can either postpone the inevitable removal by several years if not decades and even some ways to "retro-fit a driveway to be tree friendly. You will have to spend money on the driveway anyway so why not look into options that keep you from also spending money on tree removal?
     
  8. ArrogantMouse

    ArrogantMouse New Member

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    Thought some pictures might be useful. The red lines were where I had been thinking of pruning. First pic is from within my driveway. Second is from the road, with my place hiding on the right. Third is of the trunk and leaning post (background yard & house are neighbour's).
     

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  9. Zeb Haney

    Zeb Haney Member

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    Definitely don't prune the tree as you've indicated. There is probably a way to rebuild a non-concrete driveway to be sequoia-friendly, but with the top already messed with on a young tree you can expect some vigorous new growth to start appearing all over, especially near the top. Shearing the sides will only make it worse.
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sequoiadendron giganteum.
     
  11. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Reviewing this topic ... it' sure shows why uninstructed homeowners can't come to a forum and get the skills or information that replaces a responsible arborist coming too location and providing the right options and solutions.
     
  12. ArrogantMouse

    ArrogantMouse New Member

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    Sequoiadendron giganteum (on steriods) has fallen. I decided to have it cut down. It was only 19 years old and > 1 m in diameter at the base (see pictures). There was a red ring the year we moved here 7 years ago, which is convenient for showing how much it grew in that time.

    I don't know why the ring is red. It was a snowy year and that may be the year I used lots of salt on the driveway. Could that have been the cause? Also interesting, the wood is reddish until that ring, then yellow/white since.
     

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  13. Daniel Mosquin

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

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    I suppose the salt could be the reason, yes.
     

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