To cut the tree or not to cut the tree - that is the question!
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Issue: June 14, 2008

Transplanting houseplants in the summer

Question:

My pine tree has started pushing my block wall. It is pushing it about a 1/4 inch a week. The tree is about 30' tall and contained in a small area. What should I do? If I cut the tree down will the roots die? Or should I let it continue to grow? The area is too small to get any equipment to it (the access is no larger than a couple of feet).

Answer:

You should remove the tree. This will not be easy in the confined area you described. You will need to find a tree removal company that specializes in such difficult circumstances. They may have to use a crane or other heavy equipment to lift the tree over the house to a larger area, or they will need to remove the tree by cutting it into small pieces that can be carefully lowered into the confined area at the base of the tree before removal. Be sure the company you select is insured and bonded for your protection and theirs.

Pine roots will cease growing and die when the top of the tree is removed. They are dependent on the leaves for the food that allows them to grow. Unlike some other trees, they will not sprout from the roots, and most pines will not sprout from the base of the trunk either. So, if you cut the tree, the roots will stop pushing the block wall. However, be prepared for the time when the roots begin to decompose. There is a chance that the wall will settle as will soil above the decaying roots.

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For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h.

Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.