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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:23 am
Location: Northern California Central Valley USA

Handyman Butchered My Tree

Had to leave my hired handyman alone for the day as I had to work and told him to take of some substantial limbs and generally shape up my 20 year old tree. Well when I saw it I about cried. There is not a single branch left. Just massive limbs that are all lopped off near the top. I am devastated to the point I think it might be better for me and the tree to just cut the whole thing down. Anyone can offer some consolation I would appreciate it. I am 60 years old so can not wait another 20 years til it returns to its former self. Can't tell you what type it is as I have never known. Trunk about 30" around, over 40 feet tall, full of snowball - like blooms in spring and lovely red foliage in autumn. Just so upset about this don't know what to do.

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

The kind of cutting that was done, if correctly, is called "Pollarding" but whether this tree was a good subject for such a treatment would depend entirely on what kind of tree it is and whether the handyman actually did know what he was doing.

Although it is a bit questionable since a spring blooming tree pruned at this time of the year would not bloom this year, I wouldn't want to say until these details are established.

It's just possible that this is a Callery pear (most common variety is called Bradford Pear) and if so, the tree is known for tendency to have brittle branches that will tear down off the trunk in severe wind storms. They typically start having these issues around when 20-25 years old. It was a commonly planted landscape tree in the 80's and 90's around here.

My neighborhood was full of them until they started splitting after every hurricane and tropical storm, Nor'easter, etc. Two houses to the left had one split right down the trunk and fell/leaned on the corner of the house. Across the street neighbor's dropped a massive branch and one side of the tree across their driveway and sidewalk but fortunately no one was walking and the cars were not in the driveway or the street in front of the house.

Almost everybody has cut theirs down due to impending hazards and insurance concerns. Another issue is that it is susceptible to fireblight and becomes incubating host that can infect other apple-related and pear trees in the neighborhood.

Another neighbor across the street has been maintaining their three biggest trees for at least last five years by yearly Pollarding of the trees by professionals crews. They came out twice last year, and they got rid of some of the young 15-25 foot trees that grew from dropped fruits. The pollarded trees grow back full every year and display full bloom in compact lollipop and French poodle shapes -- not my style but it does work, and they don't have the big and dangerous branches.

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