Two or more tree trunks growing together form a co-dominant tree. These trees may look kind of cool, but they can actually pose a serious risk to your home and your family. That's why you should consider treating or removing co-dominant trees and their stumps as soon as possible.
Dangers of Co-dominant Trunks
While you think multiple tree trunks would make a tree stronger, it actually has the opposite effect. Co-dominant tree trunks are prone to split at the point where the tree trunks merge. That's because the weight of the growing trunks center there and force the wood grain to press together, instead of intertwining.
As a result, co-dominant trunks may split at any time, but they are more likely to break during harsh weather conditions. Heavy snow and ice buildup and wind commonly causes co-dominant tree trunks to break, which makes winter and early spring particularly dangerous for these trees.
Treating a Co-Dominant Trunk
While mature co-dominant trees under 20 feet shouldn't be a serious risk, anything above that needs to get treated as soon as possible. Treating young co-dominant trunks is relatively easy: simply remove excessive trunks and stems with hand shears, cutting below the soil of the surface to break them off at the roots.
Remove secondary stems and trunks during the months of November through February. Trimming them earlier or later can cause tree growth to slow to a halt, seriously impacting its overall health.
If you have a fully mature co-dominant tree, you need to call a professional tree inspector and removal expert as soon as possible. The dangers of working with potentially weak or rotting co-dominant trees is too great for an amateur to handle. Professional tree removers will often slowly kill the tree with herbicides before cutting it down and removing it.
Removing the Stump
Once you've killed your tree with herbicides and had it cut down by a professional, it's time to remove the stump. This is essential because trees can regrow from stumps. While this new tree growth is unlikely to become a problem any time soon, removing the trunk eliminates the risk entirely.
Herbicidal stump removal is a DIY project just about anyone can tackle. It requires:
- Drilling multiple 1/2-inch holes across the surface of the stump and the roots.
- Coating the surface of the stump and roots with a herbicide based on glyphosate.
- Filling the 1/2-inch holes with the herbicide.
- Removing all but one or two sprouts from the stump.
- Monitoring the remaining sprouts. If they die, the process is working. If not, you may have to apply more herbicide.
- Continuing to apply herbicidal chemicals until the trunk completely dissolves.
- Repeating this process on all stumps in the co-dominant system.
While it may be sad to see your co-dominant tree go, it's important for your own safety. After all, sometimes all it takes to bring a weakened co-dominant tree down on top of your home is one strong gust of wind. And always remember to get rid of the stumps of the trees you've removed. Left in stumps can pose a distinct tripping danger and can make gardening and lawn mowing needlessly difficult.