Old Basswood Tree

Asked July 12, 2020, 12:51 PM EDT

I have an old basswood tree that is obviously dying. We want to save it if possible. It has 3 trunks from the ground up. 4 out of 5 tree services say take the entire tree down and replant nearby. One guy told me to cut Trunk #1 down completely. It is obviously the worst of the 3 and is leaning towards the house. He said to cut the deadwood out of the top of Trunk #2, and to leave Trunk #3 alone. His theory is the root system is now feeding 3 trunks and with one cut down, the same root system will be feeding 2 trunks and that will improve their health. Your thoughts? If we do need to take it down completely, what do you suggest we replace it with? It is full sun. The photo of Trunk #1 is facing due west. Ideally, it is a taller crown to provide shade yet not obstruct view of the lake.

Wright County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for writing.

The first priority in this situation is to protect people and then buildings that would be damaged by a tree that is not structurally sound. Your arborist can assist on that judgement.

The best time to prune a basswood to decrease stress on the tree is when it is dormant about Feb or March when the sap is not flowing as fast and the wound will heal.

The tree is dying. What I have done in situations (where I can't bear to lose an old tree) is to plant a rapidly growing new tree of a type that you want now about 20 feet from the old tree. Its growth will be slowed but its will mature. When the old tree comes down you will have a head start of hopefully a couple seasons.
When the old tree comes down, bacteria will rot its roots and as they do, they will consume a lot of nutrients. Overfertilize for three years or so.

Attached is a list of fast growing trees.