Community

Working with neighbors in tree dispute first step

The questions below represent common situations faced by homeowners during the summer months.

Q. My neighbor wants me to cut my tree because it blocks his view of Mount Rainier, dumps needles on his roof and scares him during high winds. What should I do?

A. First, attempt to maintain a friendly, reasonable and cool-headed relationship. Too many tree disputes arise when attitudes get in the way of levelheaded discussions that could result in amicable solutions.

Second, try to figure out options that would address the concerns. Is the tree safe? A hazard evaluation by a certified professional may give it a clean bill of health or determine that some kind of risk should be addressed.

Third, if possible, both parties should reverse roles and then ask themselves how they would react to the other’s concerns. Is everyone being as reasonable as possible?

Fourth, figure out a compromise solution. Will some type of pruning help alleviate the problem? Or would the neighbor agree to help with the costs of removing the tree and planting new vegetation?

Unfortunately, too many disputes start on an adversarial note. Attorneys sometimes become involved, particularly if one party has taken unwise action and cut or damaged a neighbor’s tree without permission. A typical example occurs when a tree owner agrees to allow a neighbor to remove “one or two” branches, but the tree ends up being butchered.

So, be cool and strive hard to arrive at a practical solution. It is much nicer to visit with a neighbor over the fence rather than across a table in an attorney’s office or courtroom.

Q. What is causing the dead leaves in my cherry trees?

A. Many cherry and plum trees in the Puget Sound area have a fungus called brown rot. This is first noticed in the spring when blossoms seem to collapse or become limp, but do not fall off the tree. During the summer, small twigs and leaves that have been infected will die.

If a tree is in really bad shape, removal should be considered. Most have minor infections that either can be ignored or treated by spraying the tree three times during the spring blossom season. Several fungicides are registered, so read labels carefully and follow the instructions.

Q. Who shot at my tree?

A. The holes in the leaves may be caused by the “shot hole fungus” or Coryneum blight. It is very common on flowering plums and some cherries.

Initially small spots may appear on the leaves in the spring. These infected spots often die and drop out, leaving tiny holes in the leaves.

A. wide variety of fungicides can be applied at leaf fall in late autumn and again in the spring after flower petals have fallen.

Q. My tree just looks sick. What is the problem?

A. If you inquire at a Master Gardener clinic or with some type of professional, be prepared to answer several questions.

First, what kind of a tree is it? Are the leaves damaged? If so, what does it look like? When did you first notice the problem? Do you see any tiny insects on the leaves? Have you sprayed a weed killer around the tree? Has there been any construction or landscaping activity near the roots? Is the problem occurring on one tree or several similar trees in the yard?

Ideally, you would have answers to these questions and can bring a sample to a Master Gardener clinic near you. If possible, bring a branch that has healthy and diseased tissue on it. Or you can contact a professional and request a visit your yard to observe the tree.

Remember the more information and samples you can furnish, the more likely you are to have a proper diagnosis made.

Dennis Tompkins is a certified arborist, certified hazard tree risk assessor, Master Gardener and urban forester from the Bonney Lake-Sumner area. He provides small tree pruning, pest diagnosis, hazardous tree evaluations, tree appraisals and other services for homeowners and businesses. Contact him at 253-863-7469 or e-mail at dlt@blarg.net. Web site: evergreenarborist.com.

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