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Prune or remove elm tree?

Hi all,
I'm in a tenement in Edinburgh. All decisions about the garden are communal, as it is shared.  We've got a very large (over two stories) elm tree. The ground floor flats want it removed for more light. The upper flats on that side want to keep it as they like the birds. Everyone else has no idea about trees.
The tree is going to have to be pruned, as the top was damaged in a recent storm and there is a general agreement to pruning for more light. The advice we've been given is pruning it is likely to make it susceptible to elm disease and therefore it is better just to remove it (though our back garden is quite enclosed). I'm sorry to see a healthy elm go though, so I was hoping people here could give me an opinion on whether this is the right course of action. If we remove it totally, I feel we should at least replace it with something nice: elderberry and rowan have been suggested, but are these good trees we should be sticking in?
And is this the right time? I think we have self seeding ash in the garden, so a bit worried it will colonise the space if a replacement isn't in, but that should be spring?
Thanks for opinions/help!


  • If you don't want to lose it to disease how is it better to lose it to cutting it down?  It might have some resistance anyway (  There aren't many Elm trees around, it'd be a shame to lose it, so why not at least try and prune it first, you've nothing to lose.

    Failing that, you could replace it with another Elm, a more-resistant native variety (
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    edited October 2018
    what you want to do is pollarding, basically coppicing at the top of the trunk, you remove all the branches back to stubs about 10 inches long off the trunk and then every 5 to 7 years you prune it back to that point, looks a bit daft in the first year, but you'll be surprised how much growth it'll put on in a year!

    actually pruning will make it less likely to get dutch elm, as the beetle that transmits it goes for the smell of the leaves before burrowing under the bark and killing the tree, plus dutch elms starts in the branches, so regularly removing them helps too!
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