Planting a new Conifer tree to replace a felled one?

Discussion in 'Trees' started by Laura21, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Laura21

    Laura21 Apprentice Gardener

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    Hello all,

    I would really appreciate some advice please.

    We had 5 established mature conifer trees in a row, which formed a nice barrier between our garden and our neighbour’s garden. They have been on our property since before we even moved here in the late 90’s. They are 20 metres tall.

    One of these trees was recently chopped down illegally by our neighbours who trespassed into our garden and felled it without notice or permission. A small stump is all that remains of the felled tree. The legal side of things is underway, but this has left a large gaping hole in the middle of our trees. Please see attached image.

    We are looking to replace the felled tree with another conifer tree. But we are wondering about a few things, and would really appreciate some advice please:

    1) How close to the other conifer trees that remain, can we plant the new tree?

    2) Is there a way to feasibly remove the small stump and the underground roots of the felled tree, without disturbing the roots of the other conifer trees next to it?

    3) What is the maximum reasonable height that a replacement conifer tree can be, at point of planting?

    Many thanks,

    Laura
     

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  2. noisette47

    noisette47 Total Gardener

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    Hello Laura, this is a tricky one! You could hire a stump grinder to get rid of the old stump but it won't get rid of the roots. The ground will be full of the roots of the remaining trees, too, so it will be difficult to create a decent planting hole for a replacement tree. TBH, I don't think you'll be able to establish another one. One solution might be a grill or trellis in the gap which you could tie branches into, providing a screen while the trees themselves fill out to disguise the space? This would work especially well if the remaining conifers were topped so they divert their energy horizontally :)
    Failing that, well big, specimen trees are available (at a price) but it would be a shame to splash out on one of those when the odds are all against it surviving!
     
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    • Laura21

      Laura21 Apprentice Gardener

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      Hello Noisette,

      Thanks for your post, this is very useful! Yes it is the space for the new roots to grow that we are concerned about, however we do really want to plant a tree to replace what was lost.

      That is a very good idea to put a trellis up, perhaps it can even be used for the new tree to have extra support in addition to its stakes. Do you know if there is a height restriction for trellises?
       
    • Alisa

      Alisa Gardener

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      Just a general question... Aren't these trees alltogether considered to be a hedge? .... Shouldn't those be cut to 6 ft to match hedge hight regulation? Then smaller tree can be added to fill the gap.
       
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      • Silver surfer

        Silver surfer PLANTAHOLIC

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        Horrified that your neighbour did that to your tree./on your land
        But I also feel in a town garden your boundary "hedge" is breaking new rules re height..see RHS article.

        Hedges: nuisance and overgrown

        I fear you will never be able to establish another tree in that spot.
        Not without risking killing trees on either side.
        Have you considered other options...a fake/false door /gate...giving the illusion there is more beyond.
        Can be cheap and cheerful or expensive and unique.

        Secret Garden Door - Mark Reed Sculpture

        secret garden door - Google Search
         
        Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
      • Sheal

        Sheal Total Gardener

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        Do you know why your neighbours felled the tree? If it was a protest against them shutting out the light on their side, then I think you should take that into consideration. Replacing the tree, if it was possible, might bring counter legal action by them because they are probably way over required height limit. If that happens you may have to reduce them all quite considerably.
         
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        • Laura21

          Laura21 Apprentice Gardener

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          Thanks for your posts everyone so far. Nope we had checked with the council already, our trees are perfectly legal and not hedges but trees. It was an illegal felling of a tree on our own property that our neighbour carried out.

          I don’t think we have to worry about a counterclaim. Our neighbours said they chopped it down because it was leaning on their fence a little and they wanted to build a new fence which they have now done. They also said they are happy for us to plant another tree to replace the old one.

          It is useful to read that a few posters have said that planting a new tree might cause damage to the other neighbouring trees- could I ask for more detail on this please? How would the planting of a new tree in the middle have a negative impact on the others?

          Also, is it advisable to remove the whole stump and roots first before planting the replacement, or would this risk disturbing the other trees’ roots too much?

          Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
           
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            Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
          • Silver surfer

            Silver surfer PLANTAHOLIC

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            Leaving the stump and roots in the ground could lead to honey fungus.
            You need that gap to plant a new tree...to form a row that you want.

            Existing trees are closely planted...tree roots spread out in a large circle round the trunk.
            The tree roots to left and right will also have shared the ground of the deceased tree.
            Try digging 1 m from dead tree and you will find a mass of tangled roots...some very large.
            How will you know when digging out the stump which tree the roots belong to...
            accidentally you are bound to damaging healthy fibrous roots of the trees on either side?
            Soil will be dry impoverished.. any new tree would really struggle.

            My pics below show the roots of a conifer tree that got blown over in the gales...very shallow but spreading.MATURE  PINUS  RADIATA  BLOWN  OVER 20 03 2015 15-054.JPGMATURE  PINUS  RADIATA  BLOWN  OVER 20 03 2015 15-056.JPG
             
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            • Mike Allen

              Mike Allen Total Gardener

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              Hello Laura.

              Conifers and neighbours are an ongoing problem. Truthfully, the ins and outs of neighbours right etc is another matter.

              I have to agree with Silver Surfer in many respects. It might be worthwhile getting a quote, or at least some specialised info on getting rid of the remains. Especially if there are any legal wranglings going on. Your neighbours may have to pay compensation etc. This would go towards cost of removal etc. IMO the question of getting the roots mixed up, is of little consequence, provided reasonable care is taken. Honey fungus, unlikely. Usually what happens is. The remains of a tree, will soon become host to fungicides such as forms of bracket fungi, soon nature plays its parr and a whack from a spde or other tool will surprise you.
               
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              • Laura21

                Laura21 Apprentice Gardener

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                Dear Silver Surfer and Mike,

                Thank you for your thoughts. I guess that the best option therefore is to get rid of the old stump and old roots, to avoid any kind of fungus as well as to clear way for planting a new replacement tree?

                I am a little worried by what Silver Surfer said about the roots being all entangled with the neighbouring trees and that one would risk damaging the neighbouring roots at the same time as the deceased roots- that would be most unwanted. I guess the best thing to do is to hire an expert tree surgeon to do the job. Is this a relatively simple/common error to make?

                Also, would you or anyone be able to recommend the species of replacement tree? We are not expert horticulturists at all but after doing a bit of research after the felling on what species this might be, we are thinking Cypress Leylandi? Do these grow quite fast also?

                Thank you
                 
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                • Snorky85

                  Snorky85 Total Gardener

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                  Do your trees actually block out light for your neighbours garden? If so, id really consider a different solution to planting leylandii. Getting on with neighbours is worth its weight in gold-it's awful having upset with them (speaking from experience).

                  Also having the other trees trimmed down you might get better light in your own garden as you can see below the trees around the bench the ground looks bare, and you may also be able to grow other things in your garden (a positive! :) )

                  Another solution is to plant a tree in front of the row of trees to create the illusion of a complete hedge...so a smaller tree in the foreground. I guess it depends on how big your garden is.

                  Try looking up Majestic trees and their solutions for hedging etc
                  Screening Solutions - Get Ideas Hub - Majestic Website
                   
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                  • HarmonyArb

                    HarmonyArb Gardener

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                    Hi Laura21

                    Wow. That is brazen of your neighbours and I hope you manage to get some resolution sorted. In answer to your questions:

                    I think whatever you plant reasonably close to the established trees is going to have a hard time growing. Conifer trees swallow up both light and water in huge amounts and will leave any young trees with little space, water or light to grow. You could give it a go and plant another conifer where the original one was in the hope you fill the gap - but it may take a long time, if ever.

                    Not really, no. The roots of all the trees have probably intertwined now. Stump grinders come in all shapes and sizes, and the really small ones can be run off a chainsaw. However, I think it's unavoidable that you would cause damage to neighbouring roots. Using handtools such as a pick, mattock and digging bar to remove the bulk of the stump would be your best option.

                    If you want something that's pretty well established then you'll be looking at getting something rootballed between 1.5m - 2m tall. This will have to be delivered from the nursery and will take a fair bit of work to get into position and into the ground. It won't be cheap, but will be more likely to survive than a scrappy pot planted conifer from B&Q.

                    Hope this helps.
                     
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                    • Laura21

                      Laura21 Apprentice Gardener

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                      Hello HarmonyArb,

                      Thank you so much, your post is immensely helpful. Yes we are still suffering the after emotional effects of the random act that was done in our garden. It seems as though the main problem then would be uprooting the stump and roots to create as much space as possible for the new tree, without disturbing the neighbouring trees.
                      I understand that it’s not ideal to plant a tall tree, but we are very keen to fill atleast half the height of the gap that is left. Would you say that planting a 10ft tree with stakes to support it, would be ok?

                      Also would you or anyone else, be able to recommend a very good tree surgeon company? I am terrified of the neighbouring trees’ roots being accidentally removed- needs to be someone I trust well to do it! :-/

                      Thanks as ever everyone for your help
                       
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                      • HarmonyArb

                        HarmonyArb Gardener

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                        I'm afraid I can't offer any suggestions of who you could contact. Google / Yellow Pages would be the best option to search for someone. Some key points to help you find a reputable tree surgeon with stump grinder:

                        They are NPTC trained (You can ask to see their NPTC cards / certs)
                        They have full Public Liability insurance (You can ask to see their insurance paperwork)
                        A website with gallery helps to check the quality of their work
                        Customer feedback / ratings
                         
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                        • Laura21

                          Laura21 Apprentice Gardener

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                          Thank you so much for this. It helps a lot.

                          Currently, due to the risks involved with taking out the stump, we are thinking of just leaving it there with all its roots, and planting a new tree near it- does this seem like a good idea? If we left it to nature for the deceased roots to decompose naturally?

                          Thank you again for your help
                           
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