Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Another section by popular demand. If you want to talk about anything else that grows that is not livestock, herbs, fruit or vegetables here it goes.
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lunalucy
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Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223617 lunalucy
Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:17 pm

Help!

We've got a large sycamore tree growing on the boundary of our property - it is definitely ours, and sits next to another large tree, whose species I'm not entirely sure of (I'll try and get a pic). As you'd expect, the sycamore has grown year on year and is now rather monstrous. We want to prune it to reduce it's height, but I'm fully aware of the consequences of 'bad' pruning or tree surgery, i.e. it will grow monstrously tall again and possibly even wider.

My RHS pruning book is not very helpful when it comes to sycamores. We're starting to consider the services of a tree surgeon, but if we can reduce the costs and do it ourselves, then all the better. Thing is, I can't seem to find any helpful info on pruning them - it's mostly 'don't do it', or information relating to a dispute.

The tree is starting to hang over our neighbours' fences and I really don't want them to have to deal with it - it leaches sticky sap and is quite overbearing in summer when in full leaf. I don't want to get rid of it, I just want it much smaller and much more manageable - wouldn't mind having it as more of a hedge, but not sure if this is possible. The tree is now becoming taller than the houses it stands opposite, so we really need to do something pronto.

Anyone know of any good resources, guides or should we just pay someone who knows what they're doing?

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Millymollymandy
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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223625 Millymollymandy
Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:01 pm

We take branches off our smaller ones to try to keep them under control (and also provides some firewood) but can't cope with the really huge ones. The one thing I do know with sycamore is that it should be done earlier in winter rather than later as the sap rises early and it will stream if you do it too late. As usual we are behind with our winter jobs so have only managed to take the branches off one of ours in the chicken run and it's too late to do the rest now. I wanted to do the one which overhangs the chicken shed which turns all the water which runs off into a water butt into a disgusting brown stinking mess which I don't dare use even on the veg, let alone for the chooks. I put that down to aphids and honeydew but can't be certain.

I would take advice of a tree surgeon if the tree is really big. They do seem to cope quite well with being pruned though.
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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223626 Odsox
Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:21 pm

I used to be surrounded by sycamores and I can tell you one thing, they are impossible to kill.
It might be a good idea, if you can, to chop it down to ground level. Lots of free logs for next winter and it will sprout many new shoots which you can easily restrict to one or two.

Don't park a car under one in spring, it's not the aphids early on MMM, it's the flowers that drop nectar everywhere and it is a right pain to get off. They do get attacked by aphids later in the year though.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223627 Millymollymandy
Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:37 pm

I think it must have been both then Tony as it never happened before and this was right through to late summer/autumn. The smell of the water was awful! We have killed sycamores by cutting them down to one foot stumps, they did carry on growing for a few years then they gave up the ghost. Thankfully!

The wood is excellent for burning if you have a wood burner or open fire Lunalucy and as you know they grow quickly so actually they really are a good tree to have for firewood as they can take being hacked about with and regrow pretty quickly. So we are trying to manage the ones in the chicken run so the chooks have shade and we get reasonable bit of firewood from 3 year old branches (we are doing a form of semi pollarding aka hacking job :lol: on them).
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)


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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223645 dave45
Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:35 pm

I had my HUGE sycamores taken down by a tree surgeon. Expensive but a pleasure to watch such professionals. We chopped and burned the wood.. took ages. And we are effectively coppicing the remains.... the stumps sprout very vigorous new shoots which grow 1 to 2 m a year... I hack off the "side shoots" as they grow and when the new growth is fat enough I'll chop them down for firewood again. Probably about a 4 year cycle. A very vigourous tree. rather like a weed. Tree surgeon didn't like them much either. I find the thinner bits ( < 2" ) to be poor wood for burning. But if you wait for a good diameter, they'll be too high.

Chap next door had the tops cut off his a few years ago... it grew straight back and more bushy within 2 years.

And I agree about the sap/nectar/gunk... my greenhouse roof is within range of Mr Next-door's sycamore. It sticks all the dust to my roof.

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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223660 oldjerry
Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:37 pm

Well we treat them as a pernicious weed.They aren't native to the UK so their value to your micro enviroment is less than zero.If you manage to kill them merely by cutting them to ground level,your lucky,there were over 30 on this holding each min 30ft,all got taken out to ground levelover 4 ytears ago,and every one has regrown.So plenty of firewood,but even when well seasoned you wouldn't say it burned hot.Another useless introduction.

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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223673 Millymollymandy
Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:47 am

Blimey. :shock: I like the humble sycamore a lot and have loads of them. I can only sing their praises from their beauty to their fast growing ability to provide good firewood.
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)


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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223689 boboff
Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:13 am

I agree, chop to say 6ft, take off all the branches, you'll get a nice new tree soon, and the copicing will do it no harm at all.

My TPO woodland manager guy reckons that although there is not much bio divercity with Sycamores, the bio mass is massive. So not much variety but the stuff that grows on it, from it, is more than other tree species, if that makes sence.
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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223694 oldjerry
Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:32 pm

That's pollarding.(picky old sod on a wet sunday)
There isn't a variety of species on a Sycamore cos it AINT native(UK not europe).Working on your council bloke's logic,seeing as one or two species congregate around Jap Knotweed we may as well plant that everywhere.

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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223698 Davie Crockett
Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:52 pm

Something no one else has mentioned that you can do with the wood is that Sycamore (and Field Maple) timber is excellent for making kitchen implements and musical instruments due to it's close grain and resonant qualities.

I'd pollard it at about 6 ft.
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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223716 becks77
Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:22 pm

Where are you I'll send round my OH has just dessimated our tree, if it ever grows again it will be a miracle....
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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223724 oldjerry
Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:36 pm

Buy that man a drink!!

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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223755 boboff
Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:01 am

oldjerry wrote:That's pollarding.(picky old sod on a wet sunday)
There isn't a variety of species on a Sycamore cos it AINT native(UK not europe).Working on your council bloke's logic,seeing as one or two species congregate around Jap Knotweed we may as well plant that everywhere.



Jerry, they are arses, they speak opinion as fact, and sod the little guy trying to make a living. They would all love to be doing what I am doing, have what I have, so they make life as difficult as possible whilst maintaining a smile.

Oh I thought Pollarding was having a go at that Antiques dealer off of Emerdale, every days a school day!
Millymollymandy wrote:Bloody smilies, always being used. I hate them and they should be banned.
No I won't use a smiley because I've decided to turn into Boboff, as he's turned all nice all of a sudden. Grumble grumble.

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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223820 oldjerry
Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:02 pm

Aint that the truth,one TPO guy from N.Somerset(admittedly a few years back) couldn't understand why I was querying why a Mulberry that was at least 150 yrs old(and whose new owner wanted me to prune drastically)didn't have a tpo.I went off on one,lost the job,but secured the tpo,and it's still there!!

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lunalucy
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Re: Pruning a HUGE sycamore

Post: #223824 lunalucy
Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:56 pm

OK, thanks for your replies. I guess we will be going at it and doing some drastic pruning, and seasoning the wood for burning for next winter (or the next one after that, depending on how well it goes). I think if we lose the sycamore (for some reason I can't stand the idea of completely killing off a tree!), we would plant something like birches - maybe paper or silver birches - in its place. Less 'bulky' and overbearing for us and the neighbours.We want some screening but not to the extent that it is now.


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