Trimming invasive gum tree roots

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Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby rasilbasil » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:35 am

I have a problem with a large scribbly gum tree on my neighbours property 1m from our adjoining fence line. The gum is about 15m high and about 70cm in diameter. The roots have raised the pavers significantly on our side and seem to be going under the foundations of our house which is about 3 m from the fence line. We are planning to cut the roots to prevent more damage but are concerned about the effect on the tree.
Is it possible to paint the root(s) with something to stop any infection entering the tree? Does anyone have some knowledge about handling this delicate situation so that the tree doesn't become weak and a further problem? Removing the tree is not an option at the moment.
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Re: Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby bubba louie » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:35 pm

It might be worth consulting an arborist. Trees can take a long time to die and a sick gum might start dropping limbs.

See what others have to say first, someone might be more help.
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Re: Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby greg.l » Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:08 pm

Trimming major roots on one side of a gum tree will likely destabilise the tree, making it a danger of falling in a storm. You don't say how far from the fence to the tree. Such a large tree may not be appropriate if the area is small. Tree lopping is expensive in urban areas but if you leave it , the cost will only get higher. You might be advised to consult your council's tree officer for advice and help in negotiating with your neighbour. If there is any danger at all council will often recommend removal of the tree.
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Re: Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby abwal » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:17 pm

As the tree is only 70cm from your fenceline, you are going to have pretty massive roots from a tree that size. From experience with a neighbour's gums I can tell you that cutting back the roots is only a temporary measure. Telecom dug a deep trench just inside our neighbour's fence cutting through all of the roots on our side. I dug up the ends from our yard - some as far as 5m from the fence - but it seemed no time before our yard had far more roots than before.

As the tree has already started to cause damage it is time it was removed. If your neighbour agrees, well and good. If they refuse, you will probably need to go to court as councils will not usually get involved. The issue for us was solved when a large branch fell on the corner of the neighbour's house and the tree was removed the following day.

You are wise to consider the damage that cutting back the roots may cause. Although the root pruning itself would not do a great deal of damage, fungus infection could kill the tree and you could then be liable for damage. At this stage your neighbour would be liable if you can show that damage is being done e.g. your pavers. Your house is well within the damage zone (2.5 times the height of the tree) and structural damage will almost certainly occur if the tree remains.
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Re: Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby Mister Wisteria » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:15 pm

abwal wrote:As the tree is only 70cm from your fenceline, you are going to have pretty massive roots from a tree that size. From experience with a neighbour's gums I can tell you that cutting back the roots is only a temporary measure. Telecom dug a deep trench just inside our neighbour's fence cutting through all of the roots on our side. I dug up the ends from our yard - some as far as 5m from the fence - but it seemed no time before our yard had far more roots than before.

As the tree has already started to cause damage it is time it was removed. If your neighbour agrees, well and good. If they refuse, you will probably need to go to court as councils will not usually get involved. The issue for us was solved when a large branch fell on the corner of the neighbour's house and the tree was removed the following day.

You are wise to consider the damage that cutting back the roots may cause. Although the root pruning itself would not do a great deal of damage, fungus infection could kill the tree and you could then be liable for damage. At this stage your neighbour would be liable if you can show that damage is being done e.g. your pavers. Your house is well within the damage zone (2.5 times the height of the tree) and structural damage will almost certainly occur if the tree remains.


Some very good advice from Ab, I personally would not be cutting the roots, could cause the tree to drop a branch or two while it re-establishes its self. Get rid of it, its the safest way to go if somewhat costly.
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Re: Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby Sam » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:30 pm

Rasilbasil - where are you? You can update your profile to show that.

After the storms in Brisane there was quite a furore about large gum trees that destroyed houses and the fact that people had wanted them removed but council refused permission. Make sure you check your local council regulations.
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Re: Trimming invasive gum tree roots

Postby greg.l » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:24 pm

If removing the tree isn't an option now, I would say just tolerate the damage to the pavers and leave the tree alone untill it is possible to remove the whole tree. I don't think it will damage your foundations very soon.
Although gum trees have great powers of regeneration after damage, it is surprising how a small bit of damage can destabilise a tree. With the tree so close to the house it would be safer to leave it alone until you can remove the whole tree. One argument to convince your neighbour to remove the tree would be the reduced property value such a tree can cause. People can be very reluctant to buy a house with such an obvious future problem.
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