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Taking out old trees.. Can I leave the roots in the ground?

 
hannah ransom
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I have some old dead orange trees and I'm going to remove them, but I'm wondering to what lengths. Will the tree grow back if I cut it to a stump (they still have a little foliage) and can I plant other things in that root zone and not worry about it trying to compete for nutrition or "getting in the way" of other roots?
 
Michael Newby
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Depending on how vigorous they are, they might resprout.  If you want to avoid having to remove the stumps, you can just keep removing any shoots that sprout until the tree burns out it's store of nutrients kept in the roots.
 
Leila Rich
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I've wrapped stumps in black plastic when they refused to die.
 
Brenda Groth
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I'm not familiar with oranges here but I'd say if it is a tree that tends to resprout from roots you are best removing the roots, if they don't resprout go ahead and leave the roots to rot
 
hannah ransom
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So can I plant other trees next to it, in it's root zone, if I don't remove the roots?
 
John Polk
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When your new roots find an old (dieing) root, they will just go around it, picking up whatever it has to offer.  Eventually, all of the critters in the soil will have eaten the dead roots, and have plenty of goodies to share with their new neighbors.
 
Ken Peavey
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Seems to me leaving them in makes for instant hugelkulture.
 
John Kitsteiner
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Location: East Tennessee
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Ken Peavey wrote:
Seems to me leaving them in makes for instant hugelkulture.



This is exactly what Masanobu Fukuoka was doing.  He would plant fast growing trees and then chop them down after a certain height... just for hugelkulture.  Let nature do most of the work!

Doc K
 
nancy sutton
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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What about red cedar stump/roots?  Just cut down a 90 footer, leaving 4 foot stump.  Looking forward to planting around the 'remains', which I don't expect to resprout.  I know red hucklberries grow right in rotting cedar, but this area is now in strong sunlight.  Do you think I should lime the soil, and plant fruit trees?  berries?  blueberries?  Would making berms above the root area, using humousy soil, be better?  Anyone with experience in snuggling plants next to cedar trunk/roots?
 
Walter Jeffries
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Yes, leave the stumps in. There are a lot of nutrients in there. When we clear old fields of the grown up forest we leave the stumps. This saves the cost of bulldozing, preserves the soil layers, saves topsoil (what little we have), saves the nutrients to decay into the soil and aerates the soil. We then fence and to managed rotational grazing with sheep, pigs and chickens. Gradually the forest cut turns into lush pastures.

See:

http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2009/08/field-clearing-grapple-skidder.html
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/03/perimeter-walk.html
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/05/fence-line-clearing.html
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/09/view-of-sugar-mountain-farm.html
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/06/sugar-mountain-farm-on-the-map.html
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/10/sow-on-new-pasture.html
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
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Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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Roots take decades to decay. You can drill holes in the stump to give funghi spores more space to attack. You can infect woody material with spores when you crumble already rotten wood in the holes.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Dunkelheit wrote:
Roots take decades to decay. You can drill holes in the stump to give funghi spores more space to attack. You can infect woody material with spores when you crumble already rotten wood in the holes.


About ten years rotted out all the roots and stumps. We've done clearing multiple times leaving the stumps in, flush cut to the ground. The stumps naturally become infected with mushrooms in a short period of time. Grazing animals help to mow down the regen which kills the roots since they can't get new energy.

Our experience is with aspen/poplar, maple, ash, spruce, fir and white pine.

Results may vary with climate.
 
Irene Kightley
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I prefer to leave to them too, they provide a bit of interest for planting and insect hide-outs as well as helping to retain the land on a slope.









We cut down a lot of diseased chestnut this winter and planted fruit trees between the roots. The regrowth helps to keep the area cooler and we use the whips to support plants. The new trees are doing well so far.

 
John Polk
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Irene:  I always love it when you post photos.  Your homestead looks so ideal.  By their clarity, I also assume you have a nice camera.  Please, keep posting pictures, as they are an inspiration to any serious homesteader. 
Thank you, John

 
Philip Freddolino
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I leave my stumps in place unless they have roots in a roadway. I've found that if I take a chainsaw and cut the stump low to the ground and then make several plunge cuts into the top, it speeds up the decomposition (especially if I pee on them) . If the stump is fresh, I like to drill 3/8" holes around the top perimeter and inoculate them with an appropriate mushroom plug spawn.
 
Irene Kightley
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Thanks John. I have a little Canon Ixus which is not a great camera as cameras go but at least I can pop it in my pocket when I'm out without fear of leaving it down somewhere.

I wish more people would post photos, it helps a lot to see what people are doing.

Philip, I guess it depends on the size of your garden. I'm very lucky to have the space to work around root stumps but if I had a smaller garden I'd be tempted to pee on them too ! 
 
hannah ransom
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I will hopefully post many pictures, but right now there is nothing to see but dead trees and dry hard soil 
 
John Polk
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@ Hannah:  Get some photos now.  It would make a great Before/After series.
 
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