I have an eight year old Russian Olive that has fallen over twice in
the past two years.
It literally ended up lying on the ground. It was lifted upright twice
The probable reason that it has fallen over is because its roots system
is very poor.
Ie. instead of growing vertically they have grown horizontally. This is
likely because there is a clay or hard deposit right below its roots.
I have a few stakes set up now and without them the tree would likely
fall over again in the coming weeks. I watched it today (very windy)
and the entire trunk, right down to the soil, was swaying. Its current
existence is definitely in jeopardy.
So I'm asking for advice on what I can do to secure its life.
That said, I'm not inclined to spend much money to do this.
It really grew by leaps and bounds this summer, so lifting it up again,
as two of us did in the spring, will not be possible. Unless three or
for people or machines are brought in ($$$).
Dig a better hole (through the hardpan) and plant a new tree. Russian
olives are not, imho, one of the finer landscape trees out there, unless
you're dealing with really rugged conditions. This one has been badly
stressed, and is unlikely to grow as well as a freshly planted one
in a properly dug hole.
Two stories for you:
When I was a kid in the midwest, we used to get windstorms on a fairly
regular basis. The subdivision builder had planted a bunch of
siberian elms (Ulmus pumila) because they grew fast. Not a wonderful
species... weak-wooded, poor root structure. I had one right
outside my bedroom window, and one night the tree came right through
to visit me, pinning me to the bed. Luckily, the big branches were
on either side of me, and I wasn't hurt, but it didn't help me trust
trees for many, many years.
The other is more recent: in 1987, a windstorm at Kew, England, did an
amazing amount of damage, knocking over hundreds of mature trees of
many species. The first thing they noticed was that most were very
shallowly rooted... they'd been planted over a hardpan and never
developed enough anchorage to withstand a heavy wind. .
Long and short: big trees on hardpan are big trouble.
BTW: here's the mural made from wood of the 800+ trees that went
down in the Kew windstorm:
Great stories Kay! Enough to scare anyone away from trees for life!
I agree that R.Olives aren't the finest of tree specimens, however this
one has a bit of sentimental value to me.
And although it has been badly stressed it has shown tremendous
The growth that it put on this summer alone is quite remarkable.
It was lying along the ground all through the winter. I was planning on
leaving it in that position and letting it grow upright from there. But
a neighbour came by and was strong enough to help lift it upright
Late last summer when it had fallen over, I started to dig around the
roots to see if I could dig down and make a proper hole. But I quickly
started to hit its roots (which were just a foot under the ground) and
didn't want to risk killing them.
If I were to follow JoeSpare's advice (replant/move), which would
involve digging in many directions for many feet (I'd say at least 12
feet) could the tree survive the cutting of main root systems?
This is one heck of a heavy tree now. 15-20 feet high, 8 inch trunk.
Even three guys now would have a tough time moving it.
Yup, and what did I do? Go into botany. <g>
Now, ya wanna hear some stories about widowmakers? (dead limbs hung
up in canopy, ready to fall.) <g>
I wouldn't try it without a treespade, and they don't come cheap. I'm
in an area of the country known for lots and lots of tree nurseries
(with lots and lots of treespades), but I don't think I've ever
seen one as rental equipment.
I hate to be such a naysayer, but I honestly don't think this is more
than a cut your losses, try again sort of scenario. One thing that may
have happened is that there may have been sufficient breakage of phloem
in the stem when you righted it that photosynthate isn't going to
translocate to the roots this fall. Next spring, the roots will
use up part of their reserve sending out goodies to push out next
years' leaves. And next fall, once again, the photosynthate won't
get to the roots. And the following spring, more reserves will be
transferred to push out leaves... lather, rinse, repeat until the
roots are exhausted and the tree seems to suddenly die (this is what
happens when you "ring" the bark on a tree).
My freshman botany teacher told the class about killing trees by
beating on the bark all the way around the circumference with a baseball
bat, breaking the phloem connection. Sounded a bit urban legendish
to me, so I tried it on some trash trees (descendents of that
siberian elm that came in to visit me). Took a couple of years,
but every siberian elm I beat up on died. Ok, so it wasn't an
urban legend. I've always had to experiment.
You sound like you, too, might have an experimental streak. If you
don't mind the labor involved and it's not likely to fall on anything
expensive when it dies, go for it. Me, I've got an old, tired back,
and digging great big holes isn't my idea of fun anymore. <g>
Thanks for your tips!
My loyalty to this house isn't all that strong. I may be moving in the
next year or so.
So as much as I'd like to see this tree survive and grow to great
heights, I'm not about to break my back or my bank account for this to
happen. I guess I'll shift my focus now to the greater powers that be.
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