Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

ROOT PRUNING TO SAVE A TREE

What's wrong with this tree?   Nine years ago I planted two in 30" pots, both flowering purple plums, with regular drip irrigation.  Buffeted by winds on the 18th floor roof garden, one lists badly, the tips on both have many bare branches, bloom is now about 80% less than four years ago, and they are generally unattractive.
Replace or replant? I chose the latter for now, a potential savings of about $500.
First I drastically pruned the tops with my Fiskars long-handled pruner, my all-time fav gardening tool. Then, a better idea, since the trees were coming out of their pots anyway, I waited a bit to complete the top pruning job. Two strong men from the building staff provided the muscle and a crucial tool, an electric Sawzall. Because these containers have an interior lip the tree can't just be loosened and pulled out. One man loosened some soil with a spade,
the other ran the saw blade down in the dirt about three inches from the lip,
then with the muscle in four strong arms and two strong backs laid the tree on
an old canvas.  I could complete my pruning job easily, cutting both the top of the tree and some of the roots, trying to release other of the roots from the compacted ball.
A little new soil, less than half a bag and the tree is comfortably back in place, about1/3 smaller than it was before. As a woman of a certain age, notice that I saved the easy jobs for myself.
And yes I do realize that there are uneven spaces and some unattractive cut off sticks, but always an optimist, I'm thinking that the new spring leaves will hide all that. Time will tell.

2 comments:

Leeann Duchess Designs said...

Good job! Did you put the tree in a bigger pot? I'm not clear about that -- and if you put it in the same pot, what advantage was it to the tree? Thanks!

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Two trees right back in their original pots. Both the top and the roots trimmed by about 1/3 should make the trees bush out more and live comfortably in that contained space. Will have to do it all again in about 8 years, but I'll worry about that another day.

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