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odd question - how to kill a tree.....

 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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I know this is completely counterintuitive to what we all think every day, but let me explain...

My dad and I live next to each other. I have several hickory trees in my yard that drop all their nuts that split open and make it impossible to walk barefoot in the yard. Sure the squirrels eat them, but I've got another 5 or 6 in the backyard that can stay. The tree used to be amid numerous oaks around it that died and were removed several years ago, so the hickory is misshapen and ugly. My problem is, that dad only sees them as a "good strong tree" that wont break in wind. He hasnt walked barefoot in 50 years outside. He also seems to rather want local hardwood trees instead of fruiting trees, which I'd rather plant there. Every time I mention cutting it down, he gets all wrinkle faced and crabby. Its getting to the point that I'd rather not make him upset, as he has heart palpatations and high stress.

Normally I'd just crawl up to it with the trackhoe that we have and push it down, drag it off and cut it into nice sections. I'd REALLY LOVE for the tree to just die, and then we could remove it for its wood. I dont want to pour gasoline or anything like that on its roots either.

Are there any methods that I could use to instigate death in an unwanted tree? Sure, I could ring all the bark off, but when he comes up to "watch" or "help", he'd see that and get all red faced and loud. I DO NOT want to give him a heart attack, nor wait till the tree dies on its own.

Any and all suggestions for solutions are appreciated!
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1043
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Uh, wait till your dad has passed.
Let your dad have his tree.
If you want to walk barefoot in nature, well nuts are natural, and enough barefoot time will give you thick calluses.
Alternatively, rake the yard.
I am sorry, I know these suggestions don't directly answer your question.
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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well, I didnt want to suggest the first one. Our family can be long lived, but I sure dont want to be the cause of early demise. I know, toughen up, right? lol
Rakes dont pick up the nuts of these tress.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Wrap a length of heavy wire as tight as you can get it around the lowest part of the trunk. Like a tourniquet. TIGHT! Then mulch over the wire so it looks pretty. Plant some other things around the tree to make it look like you are trying to improve the space. You could also try heavy doses of stale urine to burn the roots. Though that's just speculation on my part. Prepare to act surprised when it dies. Also prepare for your dad to discover your plan and start chucking hickory nuts through your windows.

I'm not keen on the idea of being deceptive about it, but I'm not one to judge. I hope that you make the space more productive than it is now. Best of luck
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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Craig, I cannot disagree. I dont want to be deceptive about it either, but not obvious. If he asked, I wouldnt lie to him, but if it just dies then....
I see where you're coming from though. thanks for that perspective.

I guess I need to just roll up on it with the trackhoe or attack with a chainsaw and let him get crabby.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Maybe you can find a way to "accidentally" "bump" it with the track hoe while doing another project. Then you'll have no choice but to remove it.
Just to be nice, plant a new baby hickory for your dad AND then plant your fruit trees too.

 
John Gratrick
Posts: 55
Location: Mallorytown Zone 5a
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My experience is that to make it seem like it's his idea to get rid of the tree and to seem like its the best idea you've heard. Who is going to argue over their own brillant idea?

Put metal all over the top of the tree and hope for a lightning strike.

Set the tree on fire at the base and blame it on those damn neighbour kids.

Or on the other end of it. Go nuts, literally. Get a squirrel suit and sit in the tree and chirp. He'll get rid of the tree in favour of your sanity. This plan, however, might not work.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I like the idea about appearing crazy. Try this!
 
Adam Moore
Posts: 121
Location: Mansfield, Ohio Zone 5b percip 44"
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My grandpa used to tell me never to use copper on a tree or it would kill it. So I just googled it and some believe a copper spike or nails can kill a tree.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Hmm, well if not rakes, shopvac?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Wear the squirrel suit while vacuuming the lawn and you're bound to convince somebody in the neighborhood to chop the tree down "for the sake of the children". LOL
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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William Bronson wrote: Hmm, well if not rakes, shopvac?


Lawnvacs are cheap. Worth it for family unity IMO.
 
Jenny McGee
Posts: 5
Location: Gladstone, Missouri, USA; Zone 5ish
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You could do the opposite of all the suggestions for caring for a healthy tree. None of these will kill the tree instantaneously, but they will all take a few years off the tree's life.

For example, prune a few branches without making an undercut. Let the branch rip a long strand of bark off the tree.
Prune too close to the main stem, to introduce rot into the trunk.
Install a sidewalk under the tree, that cuts through the top 12 inches of soil and kills all the roots there.
Run the lawnmower right up under the tree, where it will damage the bark at the trunk.
Mulch around the tree, but bring the mulch all the way up so it rests on the base of the trunk. If you can get a root growing in this mulch, that root can act as a girdle.
Smother the roots by re-landscaping around the tree, covering most of the roots up with at least 12 inches of soil.
Anything you can do to force the tree to put out leaves multiple times in one year will deplete its stored energy. Getting something to graze the tree in spring right after the leaves bud out will weaken the tree.
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Maybe you don't have an excess of hickory nuts. Maybe you have a shortage of pigs!
 
wayne stephen
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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There seems to be many ways to overtly or covertly kill a tree . Seems to me the secret is how to coexist gracefully with your old man . Invite him over to a great meal and just lay it out for him . Tell him what your plans are and then give him a grace period to digest the meal and your plans . Even opinionated old curmudgeons can cope with change if given a little elbow room . Trust me on this one .
 
Brian Noel
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Location: north western pa
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Hey matt,if you want to kill the tree,get copper nails and hammer them into the tree around it in straight line,will kill it in about a year
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
Posts: 127
Location: Orgyen, zone 8
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I like what Wayne said. Maybe you could get some full color nursery catalogs with pictures of mouth-watering fruit in them to show your father what cool stuff you would be able to grow once the hickory tree is gone. Everybody wants to grow their own fruit once they look at a Raintree catalog!
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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matt sorrells wrote:
I have several hickory trees in my yard that drop all their nuts that split open and make it impossible to walk barefoot in the yard.


I don't really have a problem with you killing a tree, but I do have a problem with you walking around bare foot.
 
Delilah Gill
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Georgia
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Place lime (heavily) around the tree out into the root zone to encourage the "grass" ya want to grow, lime ups the ph and aids the grass, but hickory likes a lower ph. It could take a couple years for it to die off. BTW, urine has a fair amount of salt, and you would later have to dilute that out with compost to replant other trees in that area and of course, plain ol salt will kill it, for they aren't salt tolerant. Lime or salt just before a good rain. Also, get some fruit that you would like to be growing, make it a gift to your father. Hopefully, he'll like the fruit (pick his favorite type) more than the "dying" tree.
oh, one last thing, consider getting the dead tree made into a table or something for him to enjoy, long after the tree is gone.
 
fooey briggs
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I've heard of the copper nail trick, and also making a cut the depth of the bark all the way around the base of the tree. Copper nail sure seems simple/inconspicuous. I've never tried either method myself.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 301
Location: Upstate SC
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You could ring the bark just below the soil line, carefully replacing the soil as you go so there is no sign that you disturbed the soil to ring the tree.

You could also do what my brother did to some trees that he wanted to remove but his wife didn't believe in cutting any trees down. While she was away, he carefully cut down the tree, making the final cut below the soil line, then removed from the site all evidence of the cut tree, then took soil and local groundcover plants to cover up the submerged remnant of the stump so there was no sign that a tree ever grew there. He did this to several trees over a period of months and she never noticed that the trees were gone. You probably couldn't use this method to clear out all of your trees without this with your dad, but you might be able to remove a few of them without his noticing their absence.
 
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