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Do these trees need to come down?

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I've got a dilemma in front of my house.


I'm a fisherman, so I don't really know about trees, and I would appreciate advice from those who do.


These two birch trees have been here as long as I have. They were large when I came, over 40 years ago, but they have got even larger. My wife is now scared of them when there are strong winds and would like them down, whereas my feeling is that they aren't actually a problem and that I really like them being there.


I'm in the NW of Scotland, with the house facing to the North and a big hill behind giving protection from the prevailing wind, though obviously we can have extreme winds from any direction. I'm sure in any year one could expect winds gusting to 60mph or so and they can be even stronger. The ground is basically raised beach, with no depth of soil but not boggy or anything. If you dig down you very quickly come to ancient shingle very compacted together but with no voids between stones, all filled in with gritty soil. The trees themselves look to be in good enough shape, though the smaller one does have a place where a branch looks to have been ripped off (but a long time ago) - could rot be getting in?


There are birch woods nearby and trees do come down in the gales - which is my source of firewood - but when you see the ground they are rooted in it's always wetter or steeper and you can see that they maybe didn't have such firm foundations.


My other feeling is that these trees are so close to the house that if the worst happened and one did come down, that it wouldn't have picked up much momentum and would have a soft sort of landing if it did hit the house - or is that wishful thinking?


Is this a cut and dried situation, or could a case be made either way?






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You are absolutely right in that a case could be made either way.


I can only say that from my perspective (if it were my property) I’d be loath to lose them.


These are, I believe, white birch, they reduce very well (a meaningful reduction can be undertaken without ruining the overall look of the tree. 

This should lessen any chance of the wind blowing them over.


That would be my first instinct. 


But if they scare your wife, it’s a hard sell.


You could get a climber to do the two, with you clearing it up for no more than 350.


ps. Nice looking spot!

Edited by Mick Dempsey
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This sort of thread usually brings in some comment. 


Don’t for once second take my word on it as gospel.


Others will be along to add input later I’m sure.



Edited by Mick Dempsey
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A few years ago I was poking around on a price comparison website to see if I could get cheaper insurance, and they were all asking if there were trees close to the house. I backed off and stayed with my current insurer. I'm pretty sure I was never asked when the house was first insured, though maybe they'd say I should have told them. Knowing of insurance companies' tendency to try and wriggle out of things if they can I wouldn't be confident of being covered.


What I'm trying to figure is, how likely are they to be a danger. I think it's a risk I'd be taking rather than the insurers.


............. Typed before your second post came in. How far away are you? I'm on the mainland opposite the bottom end of Skye. Cutting them back a bit might be a compromise - keep the trees but reduce the threat.

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It's pretty difficult to tell from any pictures to be honest. Like you I'd be very inclined to keep them if at all possible.

I'd be inclined to get someone reputable to come and have a look and see what they think, if they use the phrase " I dont know how you sleep at night" then ignore there advice. Finding a tree surgeon who is willing to suggest no work required may be the challenge, but should be possible!

Keep an eye out for sizable rot pockets and any fruiting bodies around the roots or on the tree

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2 minutes ago, wildfisherman said:

Typed before your second post came in. How far away are you?

Down south - so unfortunately it won't be me up there! Later on this evening I'm sure anyone nearby with a rope and harness will be on here after your readies



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