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Beech tree recovery from being heavily pruned?



Hello, I wonder if anyone can offer any advice please about the likelihood of this beech tree being able to recover from being reduced in size? I'm not here to criticise the arborist who completed the work - they were following the request to reduce the risk (I don't know what the risk was suggested to be - maybe proximity to the houses?). Information online seems to suggest that beech trees don't recover well from being heavily pruned. My fear is that one risk has been swapped for another - the potential loss of the tree over time from being cut in half. These trees are so well loved locally so I'm looking for some hope or suggestions for what might help the tree to recover and survive (soil aeration?). Thank you.

Trees 1.jpeg

Cut tree.jpeg

Cut tree 2.jpeg

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Edit: I've just seen the bark in the other pictures you added, that's not a beech. So the below doesn't necessarily apply any more!




So look, it's had a bigger haircut than beech usually enjoy.  The tree will probably panic and send out a heap of spindly growth from just below each of the top pruning points (and from the base, and from anywhere it gets a lick of sunlight...), they'll all vye for pole position to become the new top of the tree, and it'll selectively self-prune the losers out over the next 15 years. 

The winners will try and grow into a tree the same size as the one it used to be, but they'll be growing from a weak join to the old growth, which will be further weakened as the cuts turn into rot pockets, amazing for wildlife and habitat creation, less good for the structural stability of the tree.

It'll need to be trimmed back more often than anyone will be willing to pay for to keep it at a safe size from here on in. If it escapes and grows too big again (sorry, not if, when...), you won't find as many people willing to climb it to put manners on it again, it'll be a big machinery job, it'll be more expensive, and it won't get done.


Alternatively, trees can be quite good at just carrying on when they've been damaged, and they often bounce back from worse that nature would normally give them. So let's wait and see!


Shame, it was a very pretty tree before, but I'm sure whoever pulled the trigger had their reasons. 

Might be an idea to plant a few replacements around the area to take over when this one has to go. 


Edited by peds
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Thank you so much for your replies, I appreciate it. They have made me feel so much better! I didn't realise it was a lime tree - thank you for that. I'm feeling more hopeful now. This is what it looks like closer up.

Finished tree.jpeg


logs 1.jpeg

logs 2.jpeg

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Thank you for taking the time to reply. That's helpful to know, even if it's not a beech. In some ways it would be good if it can just recover it's size and then it's harder to maintain - it might get left alone by a council that certainly won't want to pay! 😉. I hope the work doesn't risk the health of the tree and it can return to its former glory!

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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Lime not beech, so the decay will be worse and the sprouting more. Will probably be 10 years before you see any problem though. Not great, but not much you can do now either, except deal with problems that do happen rather than problems that might happen.


We've got a topped lime in the churchyard where I live, the cut face is now a big bowl of mush. Others that were cut to 5m poles are dying, one is pretty much mush for the whole base and needs to come down.


Edited by Dan Maynard
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