So, I have a minor problem. About ten years ago, the owners of my house got several saplings--walnut, ash, and many species of oak--from the forest service for their property in the country. They discovered they had too many, and just planted them in a little garden temporarily. Then they got foreclosed on, and temporary turned into permanent. Now I have 40 or 50 ten year old trees growing about 12"-15" apart from each other. Yes, I said inches.
On the plus side, I now have several very tall, very straight trees. Probably 5 really nice walnuts, and 5 or 6 really nice oaks. There's also at least 20 oaks that would be really nice if I could move them, but I'm sure all of the roots are entangled pretty badly. There are several that are spindly and dying, and all of the ash trees died but two. (They were in the center of the stand)
Now I don't know what to do with my little "forest." I love the fact that competition for light has made them all grow straight up, and I have a 3 year old daughter who loves to play in the forest, but I'm concerned about the long-term health of the trees. They're too big to transplant. I plan on killing all the trees with trunks less than 2" diameter this year, but that still leaves way too many. I had considered just cutting down the worst of every 4 trees each year, eventually leaving me 3 or 4 nice trees, but they'd be a maximum of 15 or 20 feet apart.
I suspect that what I <i>should</i> do is to pick the one nicest, healthiest tree and cut down the other ones, but I hate to do that. Not only because I hate killing trees, but also because I'm kind of attached to the little grove. Any suggestions?
Also, do I have any hope of saving the one ash tree that isn't almost dead? It's about 7 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 1 <small>1/2</small>", and is about 2 or 3 feet away from the nearest living trees. I know I'd never get all the roots out with a shovel, but how much do I have to get to be able to successfully move it?