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Old 07-09-2013, 02:47 PM
 
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I'm really hoping for some advice...mostly I'm hoping our tree isn't a lostcause! This is the tree closest to our home and our main source of shade for the backyard and I would hate to lose it.

A few years ago we removed a large limb from this tree because it was directly over the roof of the house and a hazard. These past few weeks have been VERY wet here, and a few days ago I noticed some fungus growing on the stump. Then today I noticed a large pile of sawdust underneath and realized we had a problem. A little probing showed the entire inside of the stump is a HUGE carpenter ant nest. I dumped a ton of diatomaceous earth down the hole and surrounded the tree with a ring of it.
I'm fairly sure this will take care of the ants, but I'm concerned about the rot itself (carpenter ants don't eat live wood, they only tunnel through dead,so the tree had a problem even before this.) Is there anything I can do to stop the rot from getting into the heart of the tree?

A picture


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Old 07-10-2013, 10:34 AM
 
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The ants are not the problem; they are only an indicator of the real problem: the fungus rot. Carpenter ants are opportunistic and feed on rotting wood, so whenever you see them, whether in your house or on a tree, you need to look for rot. But you know that. The bad news is (and I hate saying this) is that the rot is already very extensive. By the time you see it looking like this on the exterior of the trunk, the tree is probably too far gone to save.

Like I said, I hate saying this.
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:58 AM
 
Location: southwestern PA
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Looks like a goner to me too.... sorry!
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:43 AM
 
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Ah hell. Does it make any difference that the tree is still very green/appears healthy otherwise? Or do trees just take a long time to fully die?
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:46 AM
 
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If it's any comfort, we have many old, old trees here. Whenever one of them topples over, you can see that the entire heart (and more)is rotten. Those trees can endure for a long, long time.

However, since yours is close to the house, it's time to remove it before it can cause some bad damage to your home. This is one of those "better safe than sorry" times. Think about planting another tree there.
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:53 AM
 
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Should I perhaps open the hole further so I can see more clearly how far it actually extends? I was nervous about doing so because I didn't want to make the situation worse, but it sounds like I probably *can't* make it worse.
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Old 07-10-2013, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Aiken, South Carolina, US of A
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Parallel,
Call a tree guy to get it down before it falls on your house.
You do realize that trees can kill people, right?
I'm sure you would feel terrible is something like that happened.
There are so many great trees to plant in that space, this fall mabey
you can find one.
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Old 07-10-2013, 12:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ParallelJJCat View Post
Ah hell. Does it make any difference that the tree is still very green/appears healthy otherwise? Or do trees just take a long time to fully die?
I would call it a 'zombie tree'. Very often, trees actually die before they appear dead. They cannot take in any more nutrients or produce food reserves and are just using up the ones they already have. But hey, I really hope I am wrong and your tree makes it. Trunk rot is the worst, especially in a big old beloved tree that shades your house.
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Old 07-10-2013, 12:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butterfly4u View Post
Parallel,
Call a tree guy to get it down before it falls on your house.
You do realize that trees can kill people, right?
I'm sure you would feel terrible is something like that happened.
There are so many great trees to plant in that space, this fall mabey
you can find one.
Trust me, I'm terrified of this thing coming down...it's a big, old tree and it's RIGHT in back of the house. If it comes down, it's coming through my own bedroom. The damage would be catastrophic and almost certainly lethal for at least one person. If it absolutely has to go, it's going...I'm not taking a risk like that. But it does utterly break my heart. I know I'm grasping at straws, but if there's any possible way to save it...I guess I'll call a tree guy to come out to look and give an opinion.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ParallelJJCat View Post
Trust me, I'm terrified of this thing coming down...it's a big, old tree and it's RIGHT in back of the house. If it comes down, it's coming through my own bedroom. The damage would be catastrophic and almost certainly lethal for at least one person. If it absolutely has to go, it's going...I'm not taking a risk like that. But it does utterly break my heart. I know I'm grasping at straws, but if there's any possible way to save it...I guess I'll call a tree guy to come out to look and give an opinion.
Not just a tree guy. Make sure you get a certified arborist. Generic tree guys can do more harm than good. Good luck. I've been there. We had an apple tree at our last house. We got married under it. Seven years later we lost it to the same thing your tree has. You would think I had lost a family member the way I carried on.
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