TheGardenLady received this question C.J.Putnam:
During this drought, I noticed my deodor cedar had developed a lean that I don’t believe it had previously.Â It was always crowded by a very large pine nearby which was removed a few years ago, but it seemsÂ to have developed a wrinkled section of trunk and the lean is moreÂ pronounced from the wrinkled part up.Â I suspect this is from theÂ wind.Â I had not been watering it because there is an aquifer runningÂ beneath the property and I assumed it was getting water there but theÂ aquifer may have been drained during the drought.Â It is about 40Â years old and very, very, tall.Â I had an arborist look at it and heÂ suggested trimming it to control windsail, but the lean worries me soÂ much, I’m wondering if I should just go ahead and remove it.Â It is aÂ beautiful tree, the most beautiful tree on the property, but itÂ looks dangerous leaning the way it does.
This Garden Lady loves her trees. And Cedrus deodara being one of theÂ most magnificent of trees, TheGardenLady planted one in her back yard.Â Because of this love, I will suggest doing whatever one can to save aÂ tree. One can always cut a tree down – that’s a ” no brainer.” Â First,Â if you can afford it,Â I would get a second opinion.Â Be sure that theÂ tree service is certified. I do not recommend any service, but I canÂ tell you that I have used Bartlett Tree Experts.
Deodar cedars can live for 1000 years but since they come from theÂ Himalayas, they do need a similar environment. You have had your treeÂ for a while, so apparently it has been fairly happy where it isÂ planted – esp. since you got rid of the pine tree so that it can growÂ unimpeded.
But your description of the wrinkled section of the trunk concerns me.Â Usually Deodar cedars have few pest problems. But I would ask theÂ arborist if the tree might have some insect or fungal problem. Or theÂ wrinkling might be from drought. Could some of the root system haveÂ risen above ground and is drying out to cause this wrinkling? DeodarÂ cedars usually are drought tolerant, but they do need to be providedÂ with moderate amounts of water in dry weather.Â I would put a slowly trickling hose and, over the course of severalÂ hours, move it around the drip line â€” the imaginary circular soil lineÂ directly below a treeâ€™s canopy perimeter â€” once a month between JulyÂ and September. Alternatively, you could put a temporary dripÂ irrigation line over the treeâ€™s drip line â€” so named because thatâ€™sÂ where water drips off a tree when it rains â€” and leave it on for 12Â hours, two or three times during the summer.Â Also, you should mulchÂ the tree in hot weather to hold in the moisture.Â Mulch two to threeÂ inches thickÂ helps soil retain moisture. The Deodar cedars respondÂ well to fertilizer too, but donâ€™t overfertilize. Deborah Brown ofÂ University of Minnesota Extension suggests applying a balanced,Â slow-release fertilizer such as 10-8-6 in early spring, before newÂ growth expands. Ask your arborist what fertilizer is recommended.
TheGardenLady fears that with climate change we may be losing moreÂ trees from the heavier rains, the longer droughts or the strongerÂ winds we seem to be having. So arborists will have to learn how toÂ save trees in this newer climate. A certified arborist should know theÂ most recent research on tree care to advise you on the best treatment.
I would ask the arborist if he could stake your tree. Since you areÂ already considering removing the tree, why wouldn’t you try to saveÂ the tree first by having someone stake the tree? Â Though arboristsÂ prefer that a tree not be staked, because of the circumstances of yourÂ tree, it is worth a try. I would ask the arborist if he could stakeÂ your tree and if you can afford the cost of the staking; try doingÂ that first before removing this specimen. Â I just had this done to myÂ 40 year old Norway spruce.Â A horticulturist told me that sometimes itÂ takes up to ten years before you can see that your evergreen tree hasÂ died.Â I feel that if I can have that tree looking alive for thatÂ length of time, it was worth it to have the tree staked. Huge treesÂ are prohibitively expensive to replace.
First cut out any dead, dying, diseased or broken branches.Â You canÂ also do as your arborist suggested and trim the tree to controlÂ windsail. But since you fear that it is leaning too much and may fall,Â staking the tree would reduce your fears. . Here are some videosÂ showing how staking can be done. If the staking kills the tree, youÂ are out of some money. But if staking works, you will have saved aÂ beautiful, big, beloved tree. And perhaps by the time the trees showsÂ real symptoms of death, scientists will know more about saving treesÂ that are leaning.