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HarryPNE

Pollard a willow in decline to rejuvenate it.

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Mulch it, mulch it and mulch it.
 
The trees been stressed, there's competition from the surrounding vegetation and it's going to be pruned again ( reducing some of it's energy stores and ability to photosynthesise. Treat the tree as a whole and give it a leg up towards surviving.
Hi Gary,
Re mulching. Chris Simpson of ITS was quite anti mulch when I was at Hazard Tree Inspection, he basically said in Scotland you don't need to worry about water retention. I have been quite pro mulch. Can you recommend any good articles re benefits?
Cheers Jan.

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Was that last year? I must have missed that comment because I would have had to debate it. :D

 

I'll have a look what I've got but have a busy weekend. Water retention is only one benefit, Reduction in competition from nutrients is another, introducing organic matter into the soil, increased soil organisms improve drainage and reduce soil bulk densities, sugars (particularly from prunus and hawthorn) encourage mycorrhizal activity. There's a few more, but those are off the top of my head.

 

I look at this way, in their natural environment trees grow, shade out competition, drop leaves etc. Then we bring them into an artificial environment - surround them with grass that uses energy as we keep cutting it and removing the clippings, removing yet more nutrients. We trample the soil around their roots, clear the fallen leaves, all depleting nutrients and making life hard. Then we prune them and get surprised that they keep trying to grow. 

 

I think that it's amazing that the average street tree not only survives but actually grows, they are amazing what they overcome. How can attempting to recreate a little of their natural environment not be beneficial? @David Humphries had a post or thread a few years back on a knackered veteran pear, in grass, real last legs tree. He documented the mulching and followed it over a few years. I know that it's only one example, but I've seen the benefits of mulching over the years and it almost certainly can't harm. 

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Cheers Gary,
No Chris said it this year. I couldn't get a place last year, too many southerners attending!
Thanks for the reply, I will look up David's post. All the best for next week, thanks for taking the time to reply.
Jan.

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I'd be surprised if it doesn't come back with a flourish.  However it does look to be a bit stressed so perhaps you'll have the 1/1000 that dies after a pollard.  Regardless it looks like you have to do something

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18 minutes ago, jfc said:

Cheers Gary,
No Chris said it this year. I couldn't get a place last year, too many southerners attending!
Thanks for the reply, I will look up David's post. All the best for next week, thanks for taking the time to reply.
Jan.

Apparently the southerners only got a look in cos the Scots debated too long about spending the money :lol:  but yes, there was a few of us. 

 

I'm glad that he's run it again, he's a nice bloke. We disagreed on a few things and had some correspondence after the event, but that's how you learn. Sometimes there isn't a right or wrong answer, no universal panacea to look to, but debate is healthy and encourages assessment of opposing opinions. 

 

Thanks for the well wishes 

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You've inspired me to get out there and mulch some trees that have been struggling. I have a pear that was growing near a big leylandii hedge and was leaning out to try and get some light. The hedge is gone now and I've had it strapped up to a post to stop it falling over altogether. Hopefully it will stay more or less upright now (not entirely vertical) but I've surrounded it with a sheet of cardboard that is weighed down with logs and then covered in wood chip (goat willow)

 

Did the same to a Chinese dogwood that nearly died during the drought - found a tunnel underneath it (presume vole) so shoved a load of soil around it and then put some weed membrane down, again weighted with logs and wood chip.

 

Third tree is a black mulberry that I thought had died - still hasn't made it out of the top of the tube (after 3 and a half years) but since planting comfrey around it as a chop and drop mulch it looks pretty healthy - nice green leaves just under the top of the tube. Chopped the comfrey down again and added a load of cut dock leaves too - no shortage of them in the field but as dynamic accumulators they do some good where the soil is compacted

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Was that last year? I must have missed that comment because I would have had to debate it. 
 
I'll have a look what I've got but have a busy weekend. Water retention is only one benefit, Reduction in competition from nutrients is another, introducing organic matter into the soil, increased soil organisms improve drainage and reduce soil bulk densities, sugars (particularly from prunus and hawthorn) encourage mycorrhizal activity. There's a few more, but those are off the top of my head.
 
I look at this way, in their natural environment trees grow, shade out competition, drop leaves etc. Then we bring them into an artificial environment - surround them with grass that uses energy as we keep cutting it and removing the clippings, removing yet more nutrients. We trample the soil around their roots, clear the fallen leaves, all depleting nutrients and making life hard. Then we prune them and get surprised that they keep trying to grow. 
 
I think that it's amazing that the average street tree not only survives but actually grows, they are amazing what they overcome. How can attempting to recreate a little of their natural environment not be beneficial? [mention=29503]David Humphries[/mention] had a post or thread a few years back on a knackered veteran pear, in grass, real last legs tree. He documented the mulching and followed it over a few years. I know that it's only one example, but I've seen the benefits of mulching over the years and it almost certainly can't harm. 
Cheers for your thoughts on the matter Gary! Ill be honest i've never really thought to deeply into the benefits of mulching and the reduction of undergrowth competition. Sounds legit.

Would you have any suggestions for which types of chip to use at the base of the willow? Any?

Also... any good information out there on the web which tells you more about mulching benefits?

Thanks again!

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Also!

...and this is coming from my relative layman level of knowledge...

Could chip at the base not create a perfect breeding ground/habitat for damaging insects, fungi or pathogens?

...just a thought.

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