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Author Topic: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..  (Read 1626 times)

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Offline Windy_Acres

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Hey guys,

Im living on 16 acres of hardwoods, and in an opening around the house the previous owner ignored an edge row of mostly mature ash trees that likely have been dead 5-10 years. 16"-30"+ @ 75' ? Its bad enough the wife joking calls the place " dead wood " for that is most of the view from the house, LOL.

We just showed up here this last January and bought the place, planned to start the cleanup this fall.

Ive been felling trees as a form of property management for likely 4 decades, and have heated with wood for over a decade, so Im not new to trees and saws, but big dead ash leaners, is waaaay out of my wheel house.

So I need advice, they are starting to fall over, and a couple are in striking distance of the house. Some of the leans are well past 10 degrees, probably more like 20 degrees, its bad.

It occurred to me today that maybe I should rent a excavator and push them over, or hire one. When that clue came into my head, I had the thought to ask the experts ! Dropping these with a saw, with me at the handle of a saw seems like a suicide mission. I do know what a barber chair is, and how to prevent one, with a live tree, but Im guessing that might not apply here with long dead ones ?

If I rented an excavator, how heavy does it need to be ?

I should ad, Im retired with nothing to do, its occurred to me to hire someone, I called a local tree service for bid, but he never showed, so its not off the table, but Id like to handle it myself if I can

Thanks for your time.

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2020, 09:34:21 PM »
Can you rent a telescoping man lift to bring them down from the top? I wouldn't tackle those from the  ground either.
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline Southside

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2020, 09:50:48 PM »
I will not cut a dead ash unless I am in the cab of my fellerbuncher.  Forestry FOPS system so when they begin to rain tops all it does is jump the daylights out of me.  I have seen many break out 20'-30' even when it's a 16"-20" stick of wood - simply snap off and the whole top comes down.  You don't want to be anywhere near those when dropping them, they rain wood.

Myself in your shoes I would look for a 25 ton excavator and dig them from the rootball to lay them down -don't try to push them over as they may snap and throw a top right onto your excavator.  Controlled removal of the root support, without thrashing the tree, and it will simply lay over, then explode when it hits the ground.   
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Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2020, 09:55:23 PM »
This question comes up here pretty regular. Standing dead ash can be dangerous business. The old adage is that if you are not confident enough and have to ask, you probably should not get into doing it. That's not a criticism of your skills, just a statement. You are obviously savvy enough to know this is tricky business. The biggest hazard with those trees is the dead fall coming out of the top when you are cutting or it starts to fall. This kills a lot of folks. And when they hit the ground they sometimes seem to explode and branches can fly back toward the cutter. These trees are very brittle and can break in very unexpected places. I had one that tore out the back holding wood clear down to 18" below the grade, almost killed me but for good habits. That same tree cracked the trunk in half about 15' up from the stump when it hit. It was 20" diameter at that point.
 The internet is not a great place to get advice on life threats. We can't see your trees. I would not recommend trying to just push them over, they will likely do things you don't want or expect.
 Some questions for you to consider:
 Can you fell these trees safely in the direction of lean, or do you need to change the angle?
 What do the tops look like? Are they still there, or are they mostly bare?
 Are they entangled with adjacent trees? 
How accessible are the trees for equipment? 
Can you get a bucket truck near them?
 Is there still bark on these trees?

 If you have to change the lean angle to get a safe fall, this is risky with these trees. Hinges can sometimes just snap and you have no control.
 If the tops are mostly bare, that is better, less likely to have something break off and kill you, but if they still have tops and they are entangled, it's a no-go situation.
 If there is no bark left on these trees and they are all grey wood, they will be VERY brittle. They are very dry at that point.
 Best bet is to do it with a bucket truck and at least get the top dropped off. If you get and arborist with the right gear and just ask him to drop the tops and you will do the rest, you will save yourself a chunk of cash (assuming you are good with that idea).
 You seem to have the repect for these trees that they deserve. We (NYBHH and myself) did one of these at his place a couple of months ago. If I recall it was about 30 something inches at the stump and around 95' tall. We did a lot of talking and analyzing before I began cutting but we had a plan and it worked and the tree hit HARD right where we wanted it. It busted a lot of rock up when it landed, but nobody died, and that is a good thing. 
 One last thought. If you don't have some formal training on judging the lean and knowing how to calculate the amount of lift you will need to overcome the lean and the nuances of when to bore cut, how to leave a thicker hinge on one side and why and all those other little things, I would hold off on attacking these trees. That kind of knowledge is not needed on run of the mill falling of trees in the woods (although it's useful and mighty handy to have). But on trees like this you really need to know all that stuff and more before you begin.
 Proceed with the caution I can see you already have. I will say this, if my home is in the line of fire, I call my arborist in to do it right and am happy to pay the money because his insurance ain't cheap.
 Good luck and please be careful.
Tom
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2020, 10:22:39 PM »
   They scare me. I'd be scared of Southside's excavator proposal too because I consider them so unstable I'd be afraid they would snap in two or rain out tops and limbs everywhere especially since you mentioned some already have threatening leans over buildings. If they are leaning over something I can't envision any safe way to take them out except slowly in small pieces from the top by an experienced operator - and I am not one so if they were mine I'll call the experts with the proper equipment. The excavator proposal might be fine for the ones away from sensitive areas. Good luck. Stay safe.
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Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2020, 07:55:41 AM »
If you wait long enough the wind will take them down .The roots will fail after 5-8 years .
Might sound funny but I had a bad leaner I procrastinated about for a few years .Worried about how to take down without damaging a bunch of trees and not committing suicide in the process .One night a big blow came through and laid it over perfectly .I got a tad over a cord and half of firewood out of it plus a nice saw log .
Ash while not being rot resistant is pretty tough if cribbed up above ground level .However the roots aren't so much on EAB killed stuff ,they will fail . On say dead white oak they might stand for years .

What I'm concerned with is the possible if you wedge them over of breaking out branches or the entire top to come raining down on yourself .I've used a pull from a good safe distance only using the wedges to keep the back cut from closing up .Then on a bad leaner the possibility of a barber chair and thus the use of log chains to bind the bottom to  hold it together .

Offline Windy_Acres

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2020, 03:47:45 PM »
Thanks for all the input, Ive read through each one, time and again, you reinforced my fears. Im going to give a call to the tree service again, if that does not pan, Im going to give a call to some local excavators, I walked the trees again and think the biggest excavator I can rent, will just be a frustrating job, and better to hire out. Have them get them on the ground and I will clean them up.

At about how many years does the dead standing ash tree start loosing its BTUs to the point you should not bother making it firewood ? Or is this a nothing to worry about ?

Thanks again !

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2020, 05:23:02 PM »
Standing dead or above the ground ash will be good for years .It really doesn't lose BTUs because it's dead .It does get hard as a rock though .
 

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2020, 06:39:24 PM »
Ditto what Al said. I have been burning varying quantities of dead standing ash for better than 15 years now. It will drop down to 14-16% MC withing a couple weeks of being split and stacked. It is my preferred wood for heat, spilts clean and easy, stacks nice, butns great. Yes it gets a bit hard, and brittle for sure but it is a durable wood. It's not 'bad' until it begins to rot. You've got a nice supply there, enjoy it.
 I cut a lot of these trees and given you sparse description, I would say you made the right choice, but avoid the excavator if you can. ;D I will be going to drop a few of these on Thursday for my last 4 cords, but they are no where near buildings and the tops are free, so its a different ball game.
 Good luck and let us know how it progresses.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
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OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2020, 07:55:12 PM »
I only have about 2.5 acres of woods but access to maybe another 3 or 4 more that joins . I think I have all my ash felled but the other woods is full of dead  and some have fallen over .Most of them are just fine even with laying on the ground maybe 5-6 years There is a couple of large dead ones but I really have no need to drop them at the moment . 
I' m slowly working my way through a huge pile of oak that's been piled up for a long time .I have to cut it to size and split and stack it .I might get half of it  this late summer and fall .It's been so warm the last several years I doubt I burn 3 cords of wood a season because above  about 25 degrees it' nearly impossible to control the heat .Two old folks sitting around in their underwear  is not a pretty sight ..

Offline Windy_Acres

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2020, 09:22:32 PM »
Thanks again guys,

Ditto on the ash, its been my primary source of heat for the last decade, for obvious reasons. For the most part, all of what I have received has been recently dead, not years dead, so I was asking, good to know !!! Thanks !

Offline Southside

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2020, 09:41:20 PM »
Love your barn. 
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Offline Windy_Acres

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2020, 08:15:29 AM »
Love your barn.
Thanks, I stole the artwork online somewhere, I was living on a dairy farm at the time and maybe somewhat resembled my barn, and I really liked the faded Stars and Stripes on it.

Offline Windy_Acres

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2020, 12:18:50 PM »
Another kinda of related question for any of you guys..

Im " ID'ing " trees for thinning all over the place on the property. Trying to give the established trees, more resources ( assuming this is a good idea ). As an example have a massive mature burr oak, with likely 50 trees growing right under and through it's canopy.

I keep running into " white ash " trees that are 1" to 10" in diameter and are in good health/shape. Keeping in mind every mature ash tree on the property is dead. Some of these young ash trees could be left alone to grow and fill in the canopy where they are at. Im assuming these will be infected at some point, with the EAB ?? Or will that problem die out at some point ?

Or do I let another tree that is nearby take its " place  " ?

Ive " googled " this, but really dont find any " direction "

Im also whacking Box Elder and Mulberry if I find it. Although Im not sure why, except when I find them, they are usually growing right under another more established tree.

The land is naturally growing Black walnut, Hickory, White/Burr Oak, Hack-berry, Black Cherry ?, Several Elms, Dogwood, and thats about it.. Its old growth non tillable ag ground, was just recently selectively harvested. Most of what they removed was rotted, guessing it was too old ? Big Big hardwoods...

Open for comments, if you have the want or time to share, or can I find some kind of forest management resource online ? Im in far northwest Illinois, in a hilly river valley area.



Offline Clark

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2020, 09:18:59 PM »

Or it had been grazed at some point in the past and many trees that survived were damaged allowing pathogens in that created the rot. Either case is likely but itís amazing how often people write off the potential of their land based on present conditions without considering potential past choices. 
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2020, 08:16:36 PM »
Contact a Professional Consulting Forester or DNR Service Forester serving your area and ask for a Landowner Stewardship Plan to meet your land management objectives. A review of the Soils Survey for your local area would also be beneficial in guiding your future land management.

Offline Windy_Acres

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2020, 10:59:42 AM »
Hired a local excavator, waited till fall, so the lawn would not be an issue.

The operator took down about 15 real trees in two hours. He back dug the root ball, and pushed them over center, putting the mess back in the un kept part of the yard and not on the lawn.

Overall pleased with the whole process.



He showed with a Cat 320c ? Good sized machine, moved through the trees with ease, he was even moving complete mature trees with the root balls attached, stacking them making it nice and organized for me to process as firewood. Upside to doing it this way, I think it was cheaper than an tree service ( but I really dont know ) , much quicker and my stumps are dealt with 



 


Thanks again for being a " sounding board ". Im going to have this guy back in the spring to selectively clean out some more dead leaners in an area Im rehabbing.,.. trees I dont want to drop..

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2020, 12:27:49 PM »
IMO a track hoe is a better option than a bulldozer for this type of work .I've done a number with a dozer and you always take a chance  of dropping one right on top of yourself . Generally speaking on a dead tree you can break them right off the stump because the rot will be around the ground level .By the time you get the root ball out if you can  you'll have a hole  large enough to drive a pick up truck in .Good choice with what you did .

Offline Walnut Beast

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2020, 01:34:35 PM »
Your still going to have plenty to cleanup. I assume your going to have some burn piles. Land is going to need to be leveled where holes and everything thatís tore up. When and if you do the burn piles you will need to have him back to stir the piles up to burn. Then there is going to be plenty of dirt there to be leveled out. And more than likely not everything will get burned through the first time unless your working it pretty good. 

Offline Windy_Acres

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Re: Need advice for weekend warrior with about 40 mature dead ash leaners..
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2020, 01:59:52 PM »
Your still going to have plenty to cleanup.
Yes, lots of cleanup up, 2 massive burn piles right now, he took all the small and rotted stuff and put in 2 piles to burn, he did a rough grade with the hoe as he went filling in the holes, I know I will have settling and the ground where these where removed isnt lawn. Ive got a couple tractors so the balance of the cleanup wont be too bad. Ive got root rake / grapple on my Kubota.. as well as forks.
Im planning on renting a compact hoe in the spring for clean up of other tree related messes as well.
If I won the lottery, one of the first purchases would be a full size Excavator, looked like too much fun !


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