Mid Atlantic Gardening forum: Advice about neighbor's tree?

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Name: Mike
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7b)
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EvergreenMike
Sep 21, 2016 4:38 PM CST
My neighbor has a BIG oak tree maybe 10' away from the property line. I first noticed last year that some of the branch ends were dying back. The whole tree starting turning brown in August, dropping burnt looking leaves. This year, a few branches didn't leaf out at all and appear to be dead and covered in fungus. It started burning again in August. I'm concerned about the tree being a safety hazard. It was allowed to grow entirely too close to the houses, and so the are large branches that extend over both our houses. Anyone know what's wrong with it? Or have suggestions on how to handle it?

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Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Catmint20906
Sep 21, 2016 5:18 PM CST

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hi, Mike. The possibility of branches falling onto your house from a dying tree seems like a real concern.

I remember I owned a house once with a tree in the backyard that had a weak branch overhanging the neighbor's yard. I no longer remember the circumstances but somehow there was a requirement after I moved in from the homeowner's insurance inspection that I have the branch removed, because if it had fallen and damaged anything in his yard, I would have been liable, and so I was required to remove it as a condition of obtaining the insurance.

How friendly are you with this neighbor?
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Mike
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7b)
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EvergreenMike
Sep 21, 2016 5:29 PM CST
Well.. she's nice enough, but we've never really gotten personal. She's 70 something and lives there alone. I'm concerned that she doesn't really have the means to take care of it. I looked up some stuff and it seems like oak blight, which is pretty much a death sentence for the tree. Which would mean she'd have to take down the whole tree. It's so big and close to the houses that it could easily cost a few thousand dollars. I feel so guilty about it, but it's starting to get scary, and I suppose my insurance going after her for a branch through the roof would probably be worse. Shrug! Guess I should just talk to her about it.
Name: Cam
Maryland (Zone 6b)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Sedums
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CAMfromMD
Sep 21, 2016 5:46 PM CST
I would ask her if she has homeowner's insurance. When she asks why, I would explain that you hope she does because she will need it if any limbs, damage your home. Her reply to that will tell you how to proceed from there. An "Oh Dear, I need to take care of that" is the response you'd hope to hear.
Name: Susan
Vienna, VA (Zone 7a)
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Muddy1
Sep 22, 2016 10:57 AM CST
You'll be doing her a favor by pointing it out, Mike! When half of a pine tree fell on my house, it cost $7000 to have it removed from the house, cut down and hauled away, and another $7000 to fix the roof, gutters and siding. It would have only cost me, at most, $1000 to have the tree removed under normal circumstances.
I recall that Maryland law would require her insurance to cover all costs if it falls on your property (that's not the case in Virginia).

It might have the disease described here: http://www.mdinvasivesp.org/archived_invaders/archived_invad...
[Last edited by Muddy1 - Sep 22, 2016 10:59 AM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Sep 22, 2016 11:06 AM CST
I often get calls from local arborist services offering to come and do free inspections. Perhaps you could tell her your concerns and recommend a reputable service to give her an opinion about the health of the tree. You may need to do some initial research into services, but sounds like it may be worth it if the tree is a safety concern. Or, it could just need some branch trimming. If your neighbor is on a fixed income, that may factor in to the mix.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Sep 22, 2016 8:22 PM CST
I agree, a friendly conversation, with the sensitivity that she may not immediately like the idea of $$$ work, is a good start, and with "I could get you some names to call' as a possible offer if the conversation seem's headed to 'I have no idea who to call"

A real arborist, not a tree cutter downer. There's one who's advertised in Baltimore for years...Bartletts?


I wouldn't stay up all night worrying, but good to keep an eye on.
We have an oak that suffered a lot of leaf loss over a dozen years ago, it's still chugging along, it's a pin oak so it does not have the big lateral branches of some other oaks (can't quite judge what you've got there)
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Name: Mike
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7b)
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EvergreenMike
Sep 23, 2016 9:34 AM CST
I think it's a red oak. It has pointy leaf lobes. I called my go-to tree people and they're going to come out and inspect it for free! He'll give her the paperwork with the diagnosis and advised action.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Sep 23, 2016 9:52 AM CST
Good plan. She should see that as a (fairly) impartial opinion.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Sep 23, 2016 9:57 AM CST
EvergreenMike said:I think it's a red oak. It has pointy leaf lobes. I called my go-to tree people and they're going to come out and inspect it for free! He'll give her the paperwork with the diagnosis and advised action.


If its a red oak, its probably oak wilt, they go really fast. Does your city have a local arborist? That may be the way to go.
[Last edited by crawgarden - Sep 23, 2016 9:59 AM (+)]
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Name: Susan
Vienna, VA (Zone 7a)
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Muddy1
Sep 23, 2016 5:46 PM CST
I just talked to a new neighbor about a Silver Maple in his yard that should come down. It wouldn't hit my house if part of the split trunk fell, but it would do a number on his. He said it was on his radar already because it doesn't look healthy and would land on top of his kids' bedrooms. I told him it's rotten to the core, because it is.

I've heard that some insurance companies will reduce premiums for homeowners who remove problem trees.
Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
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Sequoiadendron4
Sep 23, 2016 7:29 PM CST
Mike, pin oaks also have pointy lobes and it is VERY common around here for those trees to have a 40 year lifespan. Our soil doesn't have enough iron in it to support the tree later in its life. The symptoms you describe are not unusual. Whatever the problem, I agree, have the conversation with the neighbor. I don't know how it is where you live but I think in PA you have to have written documentation to your neighbor showing you advised the tree was a problem. It also might be worth calling your insurance company and ask their advice.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Sep 23, 2016 7:45 PM CST
Silver maple can have those narrow crotches with a 'sinkhole' in the middle. So did a swamp maple we had taken out. I knew there were carpenter ants in it- there was a hole and brown crumbs piling up on the ground under it, as they excavated.

Maybe that's what's bothering my pin oak- about the right age
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
Winter Sowing Hellebores Bulbs Xeriscape Lilies Daylilies
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Sequoiadendron4
Sep 24, 2016 6:38 AM CST
sallyg said:narrow crotches with a 'sinkhole' in the middle

I hate it when that happens Sticking tongue out

Yeah Sally, if your pin isn't too far gone you might be able to save it with iron treatments. I have a neighbor a few houses away who has a 40 year old pin and it is a phenomenal tree with no signs of branch dieback. He treats it every year with a liquid iron treatment dumped on the trunk.
Name: Gita Veskimets
Baltimore or Nottingham MD-212 (Zone 7a)
Life is "mind over matter". If I d
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gitagal
Oct 6, 2016 3:26 PM CST
Jeff--
As far as i can tell--my Silver Maple (PLANTED IN 1972) is doing OK.
May be because, for years, I had lawn service, which also fed the tree roots.

I have never had it checked by an Arborist (how much do they charge???)
but the limb-structure looks solid. No narrow "V"-shaped crotches.
Even with that--I would not mind removing one of the main limbs which
are, mostly, over my neighbor's yard. It would not alter the shape of my maple-- as it will still have 3 or 4 strong limbs on the tree.
To me--it looks like a strong, solid tree. Not countilg all the small branches
that come down regularly in heavy rains and winds.
I just call it "Nature pruning" my trees.

Here are 2 pictures of the big. old S.Maple in my back yard. I have other pics. but fon't have tome to hunt for them. The trunk I am referring to--as leaning over my neighbor's yard, is on the right.

Thumb of 2016-10-06/gitagal/101979 Thumb of 2016-10-06/gitagal/bab6d8

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