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Giant elder

Hi, very much a garden newbie here but keen to learn. I have tried reading up on the pruning of elder trees but am still a little nervous. We have two giants in our garden which were there when we moved in two years ago. They are casting huge shade and overhanging our neighbours garden too so we want to reduce the size.

They are around 5m tall however and have large trunks up to 20cm thick. Am I still OK to cut right back? The trunks will take some serious sawing but as long as they survive I'm happy to take the challenge!

I've included a photo, for scale they are 6 foot fence panels.

 image

How far would you go in terms of cutting back? Sorry if it's a silly question, all the advice I could find related to much smaller jobs. 

Posts

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 31,696

    I'd say it's " do or die". 

    My fear is , if it's left uncut, it's going to damage that wall behind it. 

    I'd cut it back to about half, to lose the weight off the top. then take the 2 main trunks down to about 2feet/ 60cm.

    They'll sprout away again .

    Devon.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 77,506

    They're not usually long-lived trees, but they are virtually impossible to kill before their time.  I would cut it hard back to around the height of the top of the fence, it will re-shoot from that height as it has done in the past.  If you cut it back lower (which you coujld do) it would bush out and use up quite a bit of your garden width.  

    The only problem with doing it now is that you'll lose next season's flowers and fruit.  A better time to do it would be directly after flowering, when you will only lose the fruit.

    You may be interested to know that the elder features in Celtic and Druidic lore ... a witch/fairy lives there and protects us from harm ... if you're going to cut the tree ask her permission first image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    Dovefromabove says:

    They're not usually long-lived trees, but they are virtually impossible to kill before their time.  I would cut it hard back to around the height of the top of the fence, it will re-shoot from that height as it has done in the past.  If you cut it back lower (which you coujld do) it would bush out and use up quite a bit of your garden width.  

    The only problem with doing it now is that you'll lose next season's flowers and fruit.  A better time to do it would be directly after flowering, when you will only lose the fruit.

    You may be interested to know that the elder features in Celtic and Druidic lore ... a witch/fairy lives there and protects us from harm ... if you're going to cut the tree ask her permission first image

    See original post

     This was timely, because I'm about to commit major surgery on my elder, and I didn't know about the fairy.  How does she communicate her consent, or refusal?  And if she says no, is there any other way to keep the tree to a reasonable size?

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,455

    Hey - who's cutting down my tree?  image  image

    I'd take it back quite far too. You can see where it's been cut back before ( where the heaviest, main trunks become much finer and have multiple stems coming from them)  just below the top of the fence.

    The fence looks a bit iffy, so it might be worth taking a look at that as well - assuming it's yours of course. It would be a good opportunity to attend to it  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Third rock from the sunPosts: 33,888

    If you click on this link it will take you to a page telling you all the things you need to know about the Elder Tree.

    http://www.thegoddesstree.com/trees/Elder.htm

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,231

    Well, I apologise to mine before I cut anything off it and assure it that it will feel better for it.

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