I need to take down a couple gumball trees. The gumballs are driving
us crazy. Unless there is a way to "neuter" them they have go to go.
One is pretty hefty. Between them they probably are making about 50
bushels of gumballs a year. And they fall off all winter and half way
through the spring so you can't get rid of them all at once. I can't
top trees but I can drop them and get them to go generally where I
want them. Problem is the only clear space to drop them onto is our
septic field. The house is in VA and I've been told that the
requirements make the field pipes fairly deep. But I have not been
able to find out the exact depth. The field is only 7 years old so it
is constructed with modern components.
So what my concern is that is it possible to damage a septic field by
dropped trees on it? A reasonable risk I'm willing to live with but
if it's probably going to cause a problem then I'd rather not.
On Fri, 5 Mar 2010 10:29:37 -0800 (PST), jamesgangnc
Get a climber who can cut the trees down from the top into several
pieces. I had to do that here because of a couple giant maple trees
that developed root problems and could not be cut down in one fell
swoop. Cost me 200 each tree but was the only way it could be done
considering the location of both trees.
I realize I can do that. I'm trying to find out if I really need to.
I have a ton of room to drop them but the upper 2/3rds is going to
land on the field. If it's not a problem I'd rather not spend the
Yes, septic fields can be damaged - easily in fact. If your field is like
ours around here the standards only reqire a 2 ft bury depth to the
perforated pipes that distribute the effluent throughout the field. The
soil above the pipes will be wet or very damp and thus soft and provide
little protection to the pipes. In addition, there is a granular material
around the pipes that needs to be fairly even. You sure wouldn't want to
have to repair damaged septic pipes or even repair the divots.
You might be alright if you could provide some sort of protection to the
field to avoid impact or gouging damage. Can you tie off the trees to slow
down the drop? Or put a layer of old plywood on the field?
Really, haha. The level of entertainment would change depending on
what I tied them to. The neighbor's chimney :-) That would go viral.
There is some shock insulation as the branches do hit first on
deciduous trees like the gumballs. Unlike the long needle pines where
the entire tree trunk pretty much hits the ground all at once. You
definately feel those. I've dropped pines up to about 16" diameter
and they make a pretty serious whomp when they hit. Usually not as
much dent in the ground as you'd think though.
On Fri, 5 Mar 2010 11:07:56 -0800 (PST), jamesgangnc
But you'd be ok with spending thousands to replace the tiles and leach
field if worst happens? You probably should consult with a local
contractor who does septic systems and ask if yours will withstand the
shock as I doubt anyone here can make more than an educated guess.
I'm pretty sure nobody uses tile anymore. I think it's all that 4"
plastic pipe these days. That's why I suspect it is less of an issue
but hoped to find someone that is actually familiar with recent
Where's that -- and how long ago? Might be worth me putting the guy
up for a weekend. I've got a silver maple I want topped & can't get a
quote under $1000. [only 3 guys so far-- and none were willing to
climb, they all want to rent a boom truck for $500/day.]
Good to hear there are still some tree monkeys around.
I did have a couple pines dropped last month where there was no room
to do anything else. I posted on craig's list with a link to a couple
pictures of the trees. Said I wanted the best quotes to just put them
on the ground, cash paid. Got both dropped for $300 in about an
hour. Two guys on the ground and one guy went up the trees. there's
still guys with climbing gear around.
If someone wanted to top a tree of mine for a grand I'd laugh in his
face and boot him in the nuts. Around here they climb especially when
they can't get a cherry picker in reach which is my situation. It took
2 guys, one on the ground, less than an hour to top two 60 foot
silvers down where I myself could finish the job with my 19" Stihl an
axe and a couple wedges. I can fell big trees, just didin't have the
angle to bring these down safely. And I'm too old and fat to climb.
The walked away with 400 for an hour's work plus travel time, that's a
damn good deal for them.
If the terrain is reasonable, rent an aerial lift for the weekend. I
rented a small self propelled one with a 45' reach for ~$250 for a day
and got a lot done with it. The small one is towable on a trailer with a
full sized pickup, so no expensive delivery/pickup cost. It has
outriggers you have to lower before you go up, but that only takes a
minute (all hydraulic and auto level), and saves the weight of the
non-outrigger ones that require a semi to deliver. With the lift you
just work your way from the bottom up, taking off branches, then top
down taking down the trunk. Lot of fun too.
I don't know if you're worrying too much, but if you know where the
lines are, you can put impact points ( stacks of hay bales, log piles,
whatever) where the drain lines **ARE NOT** located. The falling tree
will hit those impact points first, and transfer the energy into the
unoccupied sections of ground.
When felling a tree, the slower you make the last cut, the
slower the tree falls, because it is not cut free but hinges
on the last inch of timber. Slow falling and the presence
of branches together can make contact with the ground
(almost) as gentle as you like. A tree's falling with a
wallop that shakes the ground is the sign of an inexperienced
I cut a 60 to 70% wedge on the side I want it to drop on. Then I make
a single cut about 10 inches above from the other side past the
wedge. When that section of wood between the cuts splits along the
grain the tree is completely separated. It falls hard. You can't cut
a big tree with a single cut unless it's already leaning the way you
want it to go. Otherwise it just sits on your bar and binds the saw.
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