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Levantine

sloping of cypresses

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In front of my apartment building there are cypresses that, as far as I can tell, are indistinguishable from Arizona cypress.

Near the end of this winter - I'm in a temperate zone in Europe - there was a rapid weather change from quasi-spring to snowstorm, and then they sloped a little  - except the tallest of them, that sloped at an angle of about forty-five degrees(!).

 

No, I don't have a photo.

 

I checked the ground: the mulch is *not* too close to the trunk. And, to the best of my judgement, there is neither too much nor too little mulch.


The background story is that these cypresses, left on their own, were completely stunted for a decade and in an increasingly bad shape until 3-4 years ago. Then I intervened and started to mulch them. Since then, they grew rapidly. This highest, the one I'm discussing here, is nearly four meters, c. eleven feet tall.

 

Back to the present time:

Worried about its steep angle, I straightened the tree with a rope which I tied to a nearby fence. I did that so that the cypress remains sloped at some 15 degrees from the vertical. My estimate was that it's good to be left at a moderate angle, 1) not to play God too much, and 2) to detect an improvement more easily.

 

Several days later the cypress had straightened slightly. It's a public space. It can't be fenced off. Someone took/ stole the rope.

 

After a period of intense rains and wind, the cypress again bent at c. 45 degrees. The rope episode - repeated itself.

 

All kinds of comments are welcome.

 

I love trees. My experience with caring for them is modest.

 

Edit: I should add that the bending isn't more or less evenly spread across the whole trunk and making an arc. It's by and large at the basis of the trunks.

 

 

Edited by Levantine

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It sounds like the roots have been levered by the wind.  If the roots are loose (especially given the condition they've been in for so long) I think it's probably time for them to be replaced.  I wouldn't upright it by tying to a fence, that's going to cause problems later on one way or another.  Your mulching wont have caused it.

 

A picture might help, but from your description I don't think there's much hope.  If you can save them, you're probably just creating a hazard.  Sorry.

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I tend to agree with onetruth, you've got to consider the roots and whether they were planted properly in the first place if they didn't grow properly for a decade. If they have poor root structure then they will just get taller and fall over at some point, the taller they get in the meantime the worse the hazard.

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Here is an update: After posting the message here, I didn't check for responses. Being fairly depressed, I dreaded finding the responses, or the lack of them, depressing me further.

After a week or so, I looked at the cypresses more closely. Wow, there was such a gap between the trunk and the surrounding soil, ... clay soil, at surface level ... Far more than I recall from the last inspection.

For a first time, I figured out an elementary scenario of how some trees come to lean: It's likely that the rains have softened the soil, which is clay, and the winds have pushed the tree, which in turn pushed the clay away, gradually creating this 'hole.'

 

I'm telling this rather dumb story because of the possibility that somebody may learn something from it, either about trees, or about people and what they can do to trees.

 

I collected some gravel and soil from nearby, and with it (a) filled the gap and (b) placed some of it on the surface by the leaning side of the tree. With my hands I pushed the trunk to a vertical position, and with my feet pushed the dirt (b) in the created opening. Then, of course, I pressed the soil, added more dirt, and pressed it some more.

 

Repeated the process with all the other, less leaning cypresses.

 

Now they are all straight. 

 

After several days the tallest cypress started to lean once again, slightly. I just repeated the procedure.

 

I'm aware that these are very basic remarks, perhaps revoltingly so.

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Everything considered, it might be optimal to just keep them in size. Say, about two meters height.
Giving up on them is demoralising, transporting them financially unrealistic.
Topping them is ugly and distasteful but 1) it’s arizona cypresses 2) they will perform exactly the hedge function for which they were planted.

& Thanks for the comments!

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If it's public space in front of your apartment, the trees don't belong to you and are not your responsibility. They either belong to the body owning the apartment building, or the local council. It is very public-spirited of you to go to the trouble, but if a tree were to fall and cause damage or injury, you could find yourself in hot water if you were found to have worked on the trees without consent or public liability insurance. Best course of action is to tell the owners of the building about the trees, and let them take it from there.

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A year after I started this thread, I am reporting that the discussed cypresses are all upright, that they look healthy, and have been such throughout the autumn and winter periods. Interventions made on them: none.

 

 

cypresses at front b ,dec 18 2018 .IMG_1563.jpg

cypresses b.jpg

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