River Birch, very tall, at least 50 feet, planted about 5 feet from the house. It constantly drops twigs and branches (but the bark is good looking). Trunk flairs are long buried. Having read about trunk flairs, I started gently, by hand, removing the earth. First I discovered that the mulch used to bury the trunk flair is rocks -- "river rock" mulch and also pebbles. Seems to be more than one application. Then, under one layer of rocks I found decayed black plastic. So here is my question: Is this tree going to die and fall on my house? If yes, how long does it have? Should I try to save it? Is it possible to save it by gently removing the rock mulch? I have found some rocks and plastic actually embedded in the bark. I have read everything Howard has written about trunk flairs, and I'm a believer. My question is not "how" but "Is there any hope?" Thanks!
I don't think anyone can give you definitive answers on how long, etc. Was it planted with plastic around the root ball? Where are you located? River birch like very acidic soil and lots of water. How are you fertilizing and watering?
I don't know when or how the tree was planted. We relocated to Lawrence KS last July and bought this house, which was built in the 1960s and had been a rental for a year.
I am guessing the tree was planted decades ago. I have not been fertilizing it. We have been getting a good amount of rain, and nothing in the yard looks drought-stressed. (There was a 2-year drought before this year, but everyone in this neighborhood seems to water, so I'm guessing the previous owners did that, too.)
The thing I'm worried about are the buried trunk flairs and the embedded rocks and plastic. I don't know if the tree looks sick or not. It has green leaves but too far up to see very well. Everything that drops has no leaves.
We had two branches removed immediately after we arrived. One was laying precariously on the roof; the other was hanging to the ground.
PS The soil is clay. I can't dig in it. I think when I remove the rock mulch, I might be able to dig a bit and add some shredded leaves and compost and then maybe have some perennials. So far, removing the rocks has been a very slow process. The existing shrubs seem very healthy to me. I'm not sure what they are, but possibly a couple of azaleas and a bunch of overground spireas.
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