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Dances With Snails

dangerous yet? Question from the Czech Republic

Question

Hello all, where to start? I'm looking for advice as to whether a tree in my garden is a present danger.

I'm English, living in the Czech Republic, in a rural area where very few people speak English. I don't yet speak enough Czech to have a complex conversation. Such as one about tree safety pluls local beaurocracy.

OK, we have a big birch in our garden, that started to lean over. It's leaning towards our neighbours house. My own feeling about it is that it has to come down now. But I don't know and accept I could be wrong. I'll insert some pictures and then write the rest.

IMG_20190407_130845.thumb.jpg.474e5aa6445cf866e509ab19439d03c4.jpg

 

here he is, leaning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190407_130909.thumb.jpg.7d03ba16acb0b357174c61018ebf2abf.jpgAnd there's our neighbours house that it's leaning towards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190407_134240.thumb.jpg.7835182056abf3fda6b6914c2c3dd3b1.jpgThe garden was relandscaped maybe a year or two before I moved in. (I've been here about 4 years myself now). I'm told that the base of the tree grew from the level of the lower lawn here. Then the retaining wall was built around it and the trunk was encased with soil up to about 4 feet - which is the situation that you see here in the photo. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190407_134309.thumb.jpg.5805380cf21f0b6816271e9f5b7b1871.jpgthe trunk looks ok at the base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190407_134331.thumb.jpg.32d88c1590528661bca1346b90cc30d4.jpgbut higher up we have this wound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190407_134256.thumb.jpg.502c318235ba847af71521fa943fab86.jpgand this old broken limb in the middle here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190407_130802.thumb.jpg.3cee633a1fde3363aa65edc8019997a4.jpgand recent winds blew some small branches down that look a bit rotten - as this one for example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall I can see no fruiting bodies anywhere on the tree.

 

OK, back to the situation...

I need the agreement of the local council to get this tree cut down - that's the law here about trees of more than a certain size. But in order to ask them I need first the agreement of the other flat owners in the block. One of these owners doesn't communicate. And of course, I need to do all this in Czech, which is fair enough, unless the tree falls on someone while I'm working on my Czech skills.

If the tree is dangerous NOW then the situation changes. I could simply have it cut down without any one's permission.

I had a tree surgeon come and have a look at it maybe six months ago. He said it would become dangerous but wasn't yet. The problem is that I won't know when it does become dangerous. I would have pointed this out to the tree surgeon, but that was beyond my language skills at the time. So I'm posting this to ask for general advice - for people's views - 

is this tree already dangerous?

If you feel that it is, please post to let me know. If I get a clear message from a few people about this then I'll feel justified in pressing for an immediate felling.

Many thanks in advance.

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33 answers to this question

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I can't see any lean that would concern me. However the fact the retaining wall was built and 4ft of stem covered in soil would be a concern. Because of that I would remove it, if it were mine.

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As above . The roots won't be able to breath with that much soil over them and the wall may have damaged them anyway .

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If its survived 6yrs since landscaping won't it be ok for many yrs more?

 

Top looks healthy & lean isn't excessive.

 

 

 

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I'm surprised the bottom 4ft of trunk haven't rotted through yet!  If I inherited such a birch I'd get it down asap; it rots v quickly.

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ok, many thanks all for your answers. One point that I didn't make in the original question is: that the lean is something that has developed since I moved in here. It wasn't like that 4 years ago. Would people say that points to a rotting trunk?

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I’d be more worried about the weak unions at each of the 3 stems.

It’s not looking good.

I would remove it and plant something else properly at the correct level.

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Has the decayed limb on the ground come from the stub in the main crotch? If it has then I would take it that decay has progressed down the wood as well as up, if you give it a sounding might be quite hollow so as Mark says those are very liable to break.

And yes you are right that increasing lean is a bad sign, normally you'd start looking at the roots for decay, or ground movement, to see what is going on but obviously these are too far down to see. My guess is that the stem is not decayed yet or it would have already fallen over but the roots are decaying under there so the bottom is not secure. Is it showing normal signs of budding and sprouting like healthy trees around? That would be a sign if the roots are dying.

Whichever, silver birch decays fast so it's not a tree you can leave a few years while you think about it, will turn to mush inside the bark.

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thanks again all. Really appreciate this. 

 

Dan Maynard, thanks in particular for the specifics. Just reporting my findings: The stub in the main crotch looks like it was sawn off. It's been like that since I came here. I can't get close enough to really see how it is though. There are two stubs where the fallen branch in the photo could have come from. Both look rotten. One is about 3 or 4 feet from the main crotch. I suspect that the fallen bnanch is from a higher stump. That would mean that the stump nearer the crotch fell of in the past, and I don;t know how long ago.

 

I got up there and sounded it with a lump hammer. Up around the crotch - and everywhere else on the trunk that i tried - sounded fine to me. Of course I'm not 100% sure what I'm listening for, but I think it can't be too bad.

 

None of the birches around here are quite at the visible bud stage, but it will be coming almost any day I guess, so I'll be looking out for that.

 

Well I did try to contact the non-communicative owner (in fact a Limited Company rather than a reclusive human). I think I'll give them a week, or two absolute max. Then if necessary I'll contact our local tree surgeon again and send him photos the fallen branch and stub, and deefinitley mention it if the tree's not budding. Hopefully he'll think it's a current threat and come along and take it down. Thing is that I only have one or two shots at getting a communication right here, or else there's s high chance that the person gives up on trying with me. There are very few foreigners around here, so people aren't used to people who speak bad Czech! I think it's a bit different in England where people are more used to foreigners. Which is to say - this info really helps. It will allow me to narrow down a bit what the conversation is likely to be, and prepare for that.

 

 

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