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Ageing tree maintenance help

owd potterowd potter teapot townPosts: 836
Hi all,
We have a fairly large and mature tree in a prominent position on which boughs seem to be dying and breaking off. 
We have lost 2 fairly substantial branches this year of approx 2-3" Dia as the wood becomes very weak and the branches break off easily. This must have been occurring for some time (we inherited when we moved here 18mth ago) as there are some seemingly old branch stumps.
The tree still bears leaves, and blossoms (a little sparsely IMO) in April-May so it is not yet dead.
A positive ID of this tree would be good (I'm assuming a prunus?) 
Is loss of branches a natural product of ageing or is it suffering from some dreadful lurgy? if so is this going to prove fatal? 
If not, then should I prune back the weakened branches or just leave them be?
My inclination is to cut hem back although I read on another thread that this would be best done in Summer (assuming it is a cherry tree) rather than now.
Any comments, suggestions and help most welcome and appreciated.

Just another day at the plant...


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298
    edited December 2019
    It looks like a prunus to me. 
    I don’t like the way it seems to be hanging on to clumps of dying leaves ... to me that indicates that the tree is dying ... possibly rotting. I think I’d call in a tree surgeon for advice ... it probably needs felling ☹️ 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,547
    I echo Doves advice, I think a tree surgeon is needed fairly promptly. 
  • owd potterowd potter teapot townPosts: 836
    @Dovefromabove @Lizzie27
    Thanks for your responses.
    Naturally, not what I was hoping to hear. 
    I do not think the tree is structurally unsafe and in any danger of falling over and I'd hate to have to lose it mainly I suppose because it would be a huge loss of a major garden feature.
    However, what will be etc, so as suggested i'll find a specialist to take a look and then act accordingly.

    Just another day at the plant...
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298
    It’s a shame but there’s always a silver lining ... every dead plant is a new planting opportunity 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    edited December 2019
    the problem is the roots will be far more rotten than the stuff above ground, so if the above ground is dropping chunks it could blow over in a strong wind, and depending on what it lands on could do more damage than simply removing it carefully with a tree surgeon.

    I would replace with another tree though, you can get quite substantial ones now for a couple of hundred quid.
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy North London Posts: 5,847
    Trouble is not all trees live to a very great age like Oaks etc. 80-90 years is quite typical so if this was planted when the house was new it could easily be that or more. Our local council have just had to remove several old flowering cherry street trees in roads nearby, at least 2 I have seen were quite hollow in the middle when they were taken down.
    AB Still learning

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    I agree and that does look very old - many prunus are quite short-lived, 15-20 years is usually quoted for ornamental cherries for example but wild and some species cherries up to about the figures Allotment Boy mentions, but most are probably gone by 50yo I would think.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • owd potterowd potter teapot townPosts: 836
    Thanks guys.
    House is 70 years old, so likelihood is the tree is maybe approaching that age too.
    I understand that it may be considerably weakened whilst not outwardly showing any particular obvious signs, so I will take advice as suggested and then consider my options.
    If it has to go then it will definitely be replaced with a new tree or trees, there are many that tickle my fancy but, apart from the disruption to adjacent and dependant plantings (the clematis' that grow up it, and hostas that profit from it's shade for instance) it's still the time investment required waiting for new trees to mature.
    Oh well embrace the challenge eh?...
    I'll update progress on this once I get a professional opinion. 
    Thanks all for your comments and interest.
    Just another day at the plant...
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,000
    Last summer we felled two Prunus of a similar stature to yours ; the main boughs were completely hollow and the crowns were showing signs of rot .
    Posing a danger to a nearby property we had no hesitation or remorse in removing and chipping these . Serious rot was exposed on the roots too !
    Two large replacements have just been planted :)
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