Fea­ture trees – as­set or li­a­bil­ity?

Manawatu Standard - Property Weekly - - News -

The con­crete nib of the prop­erty has been dis­rupted and will need to be re­placed.

To own­ers of cop­per beeches, fall­ing leaves are ac­cepted as a sea­sonal nui­sance that is off­set by the beauty of the au­tum­nal fo­liage.

But in the case of this tree, it was caus­ing too much trou­ble. Hence the sad de­ci­sion to ter­mi­nate the life­long as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween tree and house.

With good man­age­ment by a pro­fes­sional ar­borist, large trees can be care­fully pruned to main­tain their beauty and pre­vent them from get­ting out of hand.

‘‘It has to be the right tree in the right place,’’ says pro­fes­sional ar­borist Jonas Muller, of Guardian Tree and Land­scapes.

‘‘A pop­u­lar tree like the liq­uidamber, for ex­am­ple, can be manipulated and shaped. You don’t want to wait un­til it is too big.’’

Mr Muller says it pays to do some re­search be­fore plant­ing trees, and not to rely solely on the la­bels in a gar­den cen­tre. ‘‘Where will you plant the tree to get the best years out of it? Will it have wet feet, and how much shade will it cast in 20 or 30 years?’’

Mr Muller says any more than a 30 per cent prun­ing can lead to de­cay. The tree has to have suf­fi­cient fo­liage to pro­vide light and nu­tri­ents to the root sys­tem.

‘‘If you cut it back too hard, you get quick regrowth. The tree is des­per­ate for new fo­liage to feed it­self, so it sends out fast-grow­ing branches. The branches have no real, in­te­gral strength, so later they can just fall off.’’

Tree roots, and ul­ti­mately the whole tree, can be dam­aged if the root sys­tem is dis­rupted while the home­owner lays paths or puts in a drive­way.

Mr Muller says 80 per­cent of a tree’s roots are near the sur­face, to col­lect nu­tri­ents from the soil.

If the roots are se­ri­ously dam­aged, the harm may not be im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. But within a few weeks or months the tree will die, and the value of the prop­erty may de­cline.

What was once a vi­tal sell­ing point for the prop­erty may then be­come an ex­pen­sive project for its new owner.

Com­pletely re­mov­ing a tree from a sec­tion poses a range of prob­lems. Lawns may be dam­aged, the re­moval of the stump may be costly, and the land may slump in years to come as the root sys­tem rots away.

Mr Muller says ev­ery­thing you see above ground, in a tree’s growth, is mir­rored be­low ground level. He adds that trees such as poplars and wil­lows have in­cred­i­bly fine root hairs that probe pipe joins and cracks as they seek wa­ter. Once they find the wa­ter they need, growth is rapid and the en­tire pipe sys­tem is com­pro­mised.

‘‘Once tree roots get into the pipes, you are sure of trou­ble.’’

Get­ting a pro­fes­sional opin­ion on a prop­erty and its ma­ture trees is a sen­si­ble strat­egy for any­one buy­ing a new home or in­vest­ment prop­erty.

A long-term look at the prun­ing, main­te­nance and ul­ti­mately re­moval costs of any trees may have an im­pact on the price some­one is pre­pared to pay.

Val­ues of $50,000 have been placed on a good ma­ture tree on an in­ner-city sec­tion, as it adds a sense of qual­ity and aris­toc­racy to a sub­di­vi­sion.

If pruned reg­u­larly in a con­sid­er­ate man­ner, the tree can con­tinue to main­tain its health and growth while pro­vid­ing an aes­thetic touch that dis­tin­guishes one home from an­other.

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