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Old 08-13-2014, 06:36 AM
Status: "Techno-challenged anonymous repper" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,151 posts, read 923,235 times
Reputation: 1957

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Hi everyone. Eight years ago I planted a river birch about five feet inside my property line. The site begins to slope down towards my neighbors ever so slightly. Last week I was pruning and realized how fast and tall it's grown. I asked my very nice neighbor if I could enter his back yard to access a few limbs I couldn't reach from my side. I also asked him if he thought the tree was getting too big - I could really trim it back if he thought it was. (I don't think it's too big, but I want to be considerate. He said it gives some nice shade but he is worried as he and his wife noticed a root at the surface of their lawn. They have a sprinkler head very close by and of course the plumbing itself if the roots really spread.

So my questions are; do I have to cut the whole tree down? If I keep the above ground portion in check, will the roots still continue to spread out of control? If I cut out the roots on their lawn, will that damage the tree permanently? Whatever I do, I will make sure their yard looks as nice afterwards as it does now. They are great people & I don't want to cause hard feelings. Also I anticipate selling within five years & don't want to leave this issue to someone else.

Thx for your input.
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:52 AM
Status: "Techno-challenged anonymous repper" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,151 posts, read 923,235 times
Reputation: 1957
Oh, sorry...forgot to say I live in upstate NY - the capital region. So our winters are pretty severe and we do get a fair amount of rain the other 3 seasons.
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:08 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,386 posts, read 50,582,032 times
Reputation: 28616
When you get a lot of rain (same as here) the roots do not have to go deep, so they spread more horizontally. Our Aspens, for example, send up new shoots from the roots just below the lawn that I have to continually cut off. In your case, I doubt that the roots will go deep enough to damage plumbing, more likely they will cause humps and a tripping hazard on their lawn. You can trace the worst offenders back to the property line and cut out a 2" piece, then apply roundup to the neighbor's side of the cut to kill the root, but if you cut out too many of the roots it can cause instability that may topple it in a strong wind.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:33 PM
Status: "Techno-challenged anonymous repper" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,151 posts, read 923,235 times
Reputation: 1957
Thank you Hemlock140. Once I apply the roundup to the exposed cut of their root, can it stay in the lawn & decompose? Or do I have to rip it out? I may have a pro do all this - not sure yet. Either way I want as little chemicals & damage as possible. Appreciate your advice!
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Old 08-13-2014, 01:49 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,386 posts, read 50,582,032 times
Reputation: 28616
If you leave the roots to decompose it will take many years, and eventually cause a bit of a sinkhole. You can lift the sod, remove the root and add new soil in it's place, lay the sod back and water. Then you don't need to use any chemicals. I'm guessing that the neighbors would appreciate it if you used a professional.
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Old 08-13-2014, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Aiken, South Carolina, US of A
1,752 posts, read 3,620,656 times
Reputation: 3521
You can't control how big the tree will get.
River birch will get really big. It must be young.
It's planted only 5 feet from the property line?
Just hope your neighbor likes the tree and doesn't mind tree
roots, leaves and stretching limbs.
It's a tree after all. It is what it is.
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Old 08-13-2014, 02:55 PM
Status: "Techno-challenged anonymous repper" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,151 posts, read 923,235 times
Reputation: 1957
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
If you leave the roots to decompose it will take many years, and eventually cause a bit of a sinkhole. You can lift the sod, remove the root and add new soil in it's place, lay the sod back and water. Then you don't need to use any chemicals. I'm guessing that the neighbors would appreciate it if you used a professional.

Hehehe.... yeah I'm guessing they would appreciate it too!
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Old 08-13-2014, 02:59 PM
Status: "Techno-challenged anonymous repper" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,151 posts, read 923,235 times
Reputation: 1957
Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterfly4u View Post
You can't control how big the tree will get.
River birch will get really big. It must be young.
It's planted only 5 feet from the property line?
Just hope your neighbor likes the tree and doesn't mind tree
roots, leaves and stretching limbs.
It's a tree after all. It is what it is.

Well I don't think they minded any of it until the root showed up. They have a tree just inside their property line that reaches over to my side with leaves and limbs, etc. I like it...you're right - it is what it is...part of living in a neighborhood. But I definitely don't think they should have to suffer the consequences of a root problem in their lawn. *sigh*....probably just have it cut down. Shame, it's a beautiful tree.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:54 PM
 
25,631 posts, read 29,109,412 times
Reputation: 23049
Uh I would not apply roundup to an exposed trimmed root.

Only way your going to contain the roots is to dig a trench along a line where you want to stop the roots at and install root barriers. Its goin to be a pain now and should have been done when the tree was first planted. I am assuming you want to stop them at the property line along a fence.
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:18 PM
Status: "Techno-challenged anonymous repper" (set 20 days ago)
 
1,151 posts, read 923,235 times
Reputation: 1957
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogdad View Post
Uh I would not apply roundup to an exposed trimmed root.

Only way your going to contain the roots is to dig a trench along a line where you want to stop the roots at and install root barriers. Its goin to be a pain now and should have been done when the tree was first planted. I am assuming you want to stop them at the property line along a fence.
I wish the very respected nursery I bought this from would have told me that. I brought in a pic of the location & explained what I ultimately wanted. They even delivered the tree right to the spot. I'm not sure I would trust root barriers, nor do I want the cost involved. Guess I should just bite the loss and get it out of there before the problem gets worse.
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