The Edge of the Wold

By gladders

The Larch

I wouldn’t normally celebrate the demise of a mature tree, but this case is exceptional. Here we see a tree feller finishing off the felling of the larch tree in our neighbour’s garden. The rear of our house is the boundary between us and the neighbour’s property, their garden is what we look onto from our kitchen window. The larch tree, perhaps 60-80 years old was just over two metres from our house’s back wall.

Two years ago in the summer when there was a long dry spell and temperatures reached record highs, the house suffered subsidence. At the time it was rented to a couple who were building their own house nearby. They let us know that cracks had appeared in the plaster in the living room nearest the tree. On investigation they found the cracks went from the bottom of the ground floor to the top of the first floor, and the cracks cut through both layers of bricks.

There followed a series of investigations by structural engineers, specialist sub-surface engineers, arboriculturalists, and drainage specialists to determine the extent of the damage, the cause, the recommended mitigation and the repairs needed.

They found that the soil is underlain by shrinkable clay, and the subsidence was caused by clay shrinkage due to the moisture demand of the larch tree at a time of extreme hot weather. Later excavations showed the tree’s roots had penetrated down to the clay layer, and we found roots six feet down in our living room when we were doing the recommended underpinning work. We were told that even with underpinning there could be further subsidence if the tree was not removed.

Our neighbour’s kindly agreed to remove the tree, and today after all permissions had been received, the tree finally came down. We shall soon be planting an apple tree in our own garden as our compensation for the loss of the larch - and in a place where there is no possibility of anyone’s property being affected by subsidence.

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