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Eucalyptus trees, pollarding and tree surgeons

(24 Posts)
BasinHaircut Sun 21-Jun-15 08:56:41

We've inherited 2 eucalyptus trees in our new home. They are maybe 10ft tall and about 15 and 20 feet from the house.

I am a gardening novice but I think they have been well looked after. The guy said he cut them back once or twice a year (I'm sure he said twice). I think this is pollarded? We moved in in April and they must have been recently done as there were only a few leaves. Now there are loads and look lovely.

Anyway, I've read up and it seems lots of people would advise having them removed because of the roots. I'd like to keep them if possible as they are lovely and so I'm trying to find out how we should be looking after them.

I have a few questions:
1. Should I have them removed? Are they too close to house/too big?
2. How often should thy be pruned or pollarded (sorry I don't know which is the right terminology)
3. Should I get a tree surgeon in or can we do it ourselves?
4. How on earth do I find a decent and qualified tree surgeon? Is there an accredited members association or similar I should be looking at?
5. How expensive are they?

shovetheholly Mon 22-Jun-15 08:50:37

The key question is: are you on clay?

If you are, I'd get them out. Any other tree, I'd maybe hesitate a bit more, but not eucalyptus. They are lovely trees, no doubt, but they do have problem roots that can cause a lot of problems with foundations - and these issues are worse on clay soil. A lot of insurance companies have clauses that mean that you are not covered if trees are within 5 metres or so of the house - which at least one of yours is, by the sounds of things. So if you were to need to claim for damage done (subsidence), you might not be covered. And I gather that anything to do with foundations can be expensive. sad Also, I assume pollarding or fierce pruning would restrict root growth, but with such a strong tree I don't know whether this would do enough, really, particularly that close to a building. And, in some ways, the issue is out of your hands if the insurance company won't cover you.

However, the bad news is that just chopping it out could be problematic too. Eucalyptus are amazing - they are engineered to drive roots far and wide in order to grab water out of the soil under fierce drought conditions. The trouble is that this means when you take them out, the clay is going to change - it'll become more moist and that can cause heave if you're not careful. You need advice from someone qualified who can look at your soil and at the tree itself, and work out a plan of action tailored to your personal circumstances. It will be expensive (a few hundred quid at least), but well worth it. I would ask on local boards for recommended tree surgeons.

DoreenLethal Mon 22-Jun-15 09:00:00

eucalyptus are fantastic plants, i have just put one in specifically to coppice it for firewood. They need pruning during the dormant season ideally. Have you got a photo of it so we can see the shape?

Pantone363 Mon 22-Jun-15 09:08:20

DP is a tree surgeon but currently at work up a tree so I can't ask!

However, check any tree surgeon you hire has insurance and qualifications for the work they are doing. Ask them if they will chip and remove the wood.

Tree surgeons are expensive but for good reason! Their insurance and equipment is costly and they work safely! You've no idea how much of DPs work is fixing other people's (cheaper) mistakes!

BasinHaircut Mon 22-Jun-15 09:08:29

Thanks guys. I'm away at the moment but will post a pic tomorrow.

I thought that about removal too - that it may cause problems. We are also end of terrace so I'm keen to avoid problems as we only have one other house holdig is up if you like.

BasinHaircut Mon 22-Jun-15 09:09:09

Oh and yes we are on clay

Pantone363 Mon 22-Jun-15 09:10:23

Way too many !!!!! In that post, sorry!

Just to add twice a year seems very excessive! We have a lovely big eucalyptus in the garden about 10 meters from the house DP and except for removing one snapped limb he hasn't touched it for 3 years!

Pantone363 Mon 22-Jun-15 09:12:47

Also think about access, can they get the chipper near to the tree or will they have to drag the wood somewhere else to chip it? What is underneath the tree, will then be able to just drop the wood or will it have to be lowered to avoid sheds etc?

echt Mon 22-Jun-15 11:28:20

Before you hacking these lovely trees down, bear in mind the root to crown spread. Keep back the canopy and you'll curb the root spread. Looks like the chap who planted them was onto it.

What kind of eucalyptus is it? There are hundreds.

CPtart Mon 22-Jun-15 12:41:46

We have just had a 60 foot eucalyptus removed from our front garden. It was beautiful, but had grown in size massively in the several years since moving in and we were advised to have it removed.
Took the guys all day, they nicknamed it "the beast". I think it cost around £500. The stump was ground out leaving a huge crater to fill and turf over.

PlainHunting Mon 22-Jun-15 20:29:30

Eucalyptus trees are a thing of beauty. Mine is around 30 metres tall but it is at the back of a big garden. Yours sounds like it is too close to the house.

BasinHaircut Mon 22-Jun-15 21:35:28

Thanks all. I whave just got home and it's a bit dark to take a photo but will do tomorrow.

Yes I think the guy who lived here before knew what he was doing, apparently the bought the trees when they were small when they moved in 16 years ago.

BasinHaircut Wed 24-Jun-15 20:38:33

Photo of the eucalyptus trees smile

BasinHaircut Wed 24-Jun-15 20:45:32

And a better one

Pantone363 Wed 24-Jun-15 20:49:59

DP (tree surgeon) has had a look at the photo. He said your roots would be to the middle of the swing set.

He said if you like them that size they'll need pollarding once a year and should cost around £100-£120 (not London prices!). Should take about an hr for two men and should include taking away the wood. Just ask the tree surgeon to repollard where it was done before.

He says you could do it yourselves but obviously run the risk of a) cutting a body part off with a chainsaw b) killing the tree c) it could be fine!

Just ask the tree surgeon for a copy of his public liability and you should be fine!

Pantone363 Wed 24-Jun-15 20:51:19

London prices about £150-£180

BasinHaircut Wed 24-Jun-15 20:59:43

Thank you so much! Could I be so cheeky as to ask when we need to get them pollarded? Tell your DH I'm sending him a big virtual bottle of wine for his help grin

Pantone363 Wed 24-Jun-15 21:23:37

He said end of March/beginning of April, that way you can see how big it will grow in a year. Plus the sap is rising now and the tree will bleed if you get it done soon.

BasinHaircut Wed 24-Jun-15 21:33:54

Thank you so much.

DoreenLethal Wed 24-Jun-15 23:02:26

Luckily you dont need men, women will also be able to pollard that. You could pollard that, take photos when the leaves have fallen off and we can show you where to cut.

Pantone363 Wed 24-Jun-15 23:05:06

Doreen, yes a woman would do as well (DP has a woman who works for him as a freelance climber), I think 'men' is just a turn of phrase...... but yes, clearly I should have said a male/female tree surgeon could do that for you

shovetheholly Thu 25-Jun-15 08:42:13

It's actually quite fun to do - and should be easy on a tree that's so small. I do my apple in the garden, which is a fair bit bigger.

Get yourself one of these:

It'll go through those branches in no time, and will make you feel like a ninja.

BasinHaircut Thu 25-Jun-15 09:59:51

Thanks all! Maybe I'll be back in March for pollarding advice then! Although I might be tempted to get someone in the first year and watch them do it/ask lots of questions, then take over myself the following year.

I really am a disaster gardener and there are some beautiful trees and shrubs in this garden that I'm having to learn about so I dont murder them.

DoreenLethal Fri 26-Jun-15 07:32:33

I think 'men' is just a turn of phrase

Indeed. Remember - unless they are using their penis to do the job it can usually be done by males or females. Perhaps use the phrase 'tree surgeon/gardener' rather than 'men' all the time?

clearly I should have said a male/female tree surgeon

No - just tree surgeon. People are always aghast when they find out that I run a training company with my other female business partner and we do chainsawing, use axes, strimming, mowing, brickwork, blockwork, make paths, put up shelters, yada yada yada...the best thing about winter is being able to get stuck into all the wood work we have to do.

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