Mid Atlantic Gardening forum: please help with my tree question

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Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 1, 2018 8:13 AM CST
I posted this in the tree forum and hope to get your input as well:

Hello, my wife has recently challenged me to cut down our Larix laricina since it's in the middle of our yard and makes a hinderance to playing in the yard. I planted it when we didn't have a child and hadn't thought at the time of the future. Without it, the yard would have a nice open space for our daughter to run around. Being a tree lover, I really don't want to cut it down because I like it. So I said to her I'd consider cutting it only if it was replaced by another tree somewhere else in the yard. The problem is that we don't have much extra space and the surrounding trees have already been planted for 7-8 years. So I'm looking for a tree that doesn't mind competing with a sunburst honeylocust (to the south), red maple (to the north), and sweet gum (to the east), which are all 15-25' away from my proposed planting site. The tree would need to have a decent growth rate so it can stand a chance in competing with the surrounding trees. We live in Lancaster PA and our soil is limestoney clay. I was thinking a Shumard Oak. What are your suggestions?

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Tisha
Aug 1, 2018 8:32 AM CST
Understand wanting to keep the tree.
Can it be used as a play/learning tool?
Hide and seek.
Bird house or feeder.
Small swing, when child appropiate.
Some little girls love tree climbing Whistling
Best wishes to the little one.
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Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 1, 2018 8:39 AM CST
It's about 4" caliper now so it's only play use would be hide and seek because the branches go down to the ground. She also enjoys the cones, so they have play value.
Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
Aug 1, 2018 4:16 PM CST
Before cutting it down, you might consider limbing it up... I know that's not generally the thing with evergreens, but that would free up a lot of space under and around the tree. Even cutting the very lowest branches could create a great playhouse space around the trunk, especially if the next highest branches weep to the ground.
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.

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Tisha
Aug 1, 2018 4:28 PM CST
Jill Thumbs up
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Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 1, 2018 6:56 PM CST
Thanks Jill. I think that's what I'm going to do. I actually like limbed up evergreens but really enjoyed the 'skirt' on this tree.
Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
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Frenchy21
Aug 1, 2018 10:03 PM CST
Could you post a picture of the tree and the yard around it? I can't really visualize how the tree affects the playing space.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Aug 2, 2018 5:35 AM CST
In dear wife's defense, think about throwing and catching room, not just walking and sitting room. I can see her desire to have a certain amount of open lawn. Your little girl might really enjoy a small above ground pool in a few years for example..
It would be very hard for me to cut that tree down, but of course, compromise sometimes must be made.
I personally don't like limbed up trees that grow in that nice conical shape.

Seq, you know way more about tree choices than I do anyway. You've got maple and sweetgum which will get pretty big. maybe Amelanchier of some kind for fruit? Might require two for pollination? Or fancy Redbud? I saw a new one with tricolor leaves - to die for!
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Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 2, 2018 8:00 AM CST
Thanks Sally. I get it too but cutting down a tree is not something to take lightly. Anyway, she took a dump on both my replacement trees, which were American Sycamore and Norway Spruce. Too hard to find the perfect tree for the site and one she would approve.
Name: Christie
43016 (Zone 6b)
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cwhitt
Aug 2, 2018 8:23 AM CST
I removed the bottom limbs from ours. As the tree grew, I installed a big fat rope up the side of the tree with knots tied in it for climbing. As it continued to grow, I secured a small plank of wood about 8 feet up inside the the tree between 2 branches, for a seat. And then we also ended up rigging a small rope with a pully system to hoist a basket up and down with a book or a sandwich in it. That tree became a peaceful haven for my son to climb up into. My son and I eventually built an owl house that he placed higher in the tree - it really became our best tree. I had another one that I left most of the bottom branches in place, removing only one or two for an "entrance" - then I completely cleaned out the inside base of the tree around the trunk, which formed a hidden "fort" right inside the base of the tree. It was very popular with all the neighbor kids. I would consider actually keeping the tree and let it be a great child-friendly piece of nature - a little girl might just love having her own private fort.
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Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 2, 2018 7:21 PM CST
Thanks for the cool story. We decided to keep it and slowly limb it up so the tree doesn't get shocked.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Aug 3, 2018 6:12 AM CST
I know it wouldn't be easy to cut that down. Sounds like a fun plan! Cwhitt, that sounds very special.
BYtheway, run of the mill sycamore is HUGE, drops lots of bark and twigs and big leaves, better to go see somewhere else. There are some ancient ones at some historic park, I saw pics once, maybe in Valley Forge? Or the witness tree at Antietem.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

But I'm sure you had a nice selection in mind.. resistant to the leaf fungus that's especially plagueing mine this year
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Christie
43016 (Zone 6b)
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cwhitt
Aug 3, 2018 7:40 AM CST
I think you will be very happy with limbing it up. Then also try to clean out any dead stuff in the middle. Once you limb it up your bottom branches will probably droop down in a very graceful manner. I was afraid to limb mine up at first, but really wanted the yard space. Like you, I did it in stages so as not to shock the tree. Once I did it, I was really happy with it. It provided nice shade and looked very nice. And then became a great play space once we added the climbing rope. When I sold the house, a family with 2 little girls bought the house. I noticed that the left the rope, seat up in the branches, and basket pulley system there for their own girls. Good luck and have some fun with that tree!
Plant Dreams. Pull Weeds. Grow A Happy Life.
Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
Winter Sowing Bee Lover Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Ferns Daylilies
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 5, 2018 6:59 AM CST
Thanks!

Sally, I thought the anthracnose was more of a problem for London Plane trees? The American Sycamores around here don't usually get that, at least that I've noticed.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Aug 5, 2018 7:42 AM CST
Technically, I don't know. A lot of the early leaves on one of my two Platanus are wrinkly and weird but still hanging on, The later leaves are healthy. I read about it once...
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
Winter Sowing Bee Lover Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Ferns Daylilies
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 5, 2018 5:15 PM CST
I'm gping to look up the difference between London Plant and American Sycamore. But I think you're right that both can get it.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Aug 9, 2018 7:20 AM CST
https://hgic.clemson.edu/facts...
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Aug 9, 2018 9:29 AM CST
I took a better look. At the moment, affected leaves are flat but very spotty. Now I think my tree's problem is powdery mildew. Or maybe some bug that sucks likes.. whiteflies? What I notice is on the west side of the backyard tree - that side faces the house and lawn, and is shaded all morning, and the tree has other full size trees on the east, south, and north sides of it.. The tree in front is by itself and doesn't seem (as) affected. I could think it is the location, or just particular genetics of each tree. I suspect they came from Arbor day decades ago when original owners bought this.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Lititz, PA (Zone 6b)
Winter Sowing Bee Lover Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Ferns Daylilies
Lilies Xeriscape Bulbs Hellebores Birds
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Sequoiadendron4
Aug 9, 2018 10:51 AM CST
Yeah I read about these trees the other day and the article I read made it seem like there were so many back crosses that these trees could really be anything. One thing they did say though was that mature true American Sycamore trees don't have exfoliating bark all the way to the ground. I've seen these ones at the local park. Also, the lighter bark markings are cream on the American whereas the London's are tinted with a little green. I guess it's a crapshoot unless you really know the source. The trees in our area are doing very well at the moment. I think it might be one of those things that's more prevalent with drought stress.
Name: Rick Moses
Derwood, MD (Zone 7b)
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RickM
Sep 9, 2018 4:44 PM CST

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Different tree question Jeff...

How big is your hazelnut tree? You mentioned in another thread that it was starting to produce nuts this year. I'm thinking about getting a couple for the back, in an out of the way place.

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