Mahoosive overgrown rhododendron removal.

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Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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I'm helping a friend remove some sick and dying trees and we now wish to remove a huge overgrown rhododendron.
It's too tall, almost touching overhead wires(about 2 feet to go!) And is about 15-20 feet across. We only have hand tools, bowsaw, loppers and pruning saws, it's going to be a big job . Neither of us are in the best of health, and we are going to struggle.
We have looked at getting a professional in, but quotes are over a thousand pounds, which she can't possibly afford, so it's down to lady power.
We are happy to take it slowly, a bit at a time, particularly as it will all have to go in the green bin for removal, as neither of us have a car, so can't get it to the tip.
Once we get down to the stumps and roots, this is where we will be stuck as we cannot physically dig them out ourselves, and we don't want it to resprout. Will tree root killer work, and is there an easier way to remove this monster? We have thought about winching it out as they are shallow rooted, but the situation makes it impossible to use a vehicle, and I'm not familiar with other winching methods.
The only info I can find online is all about pruning, rather than complete removal.
We have tried to get others to help, but no avail, so it's up to us to do this on our own.
I fear its just going to be hard slog.
Any suggestions on making it easier , better tools, techniques etc would be great.
Bonfires are a no no, for disposal so that's why it's green bin.
Thanks for any advice or suggestions .
 
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Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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With overhead electrical wires, the three phase 11,000v ones, have a live zone of 1m. That means there is a possibility of arcing, so no cutting if the air is moist with fog or drizzle.

Quotes of £1000 to remove a Rhododendron sound excessive, that’s big tree money.
 
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Woody girl

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What sort of overhead wires? If electric the electric company may remove and chip it for you.

That would be amazing, will have to check that out as there is also a diseased and dying cherry that is very close to the wires. So far we have de limbed to as high as we can reach without ladders. About almost a third of the height. Wasnt keen to use a metal ladder in that situation!
Have worked in this field in the past, but only in woodlands with no wires, so am being ultra slow and carefull. Sadly my tree climbing days are over..even if I had the ropes etc.
Added problem with the cherry is a greenhouse within 10 feet, so we need to de limb and dip cut on the opposite side of the lean, when we come to take down the trunk and rope it to fall away the right direction. Have been making some chunky wedges to keep the cut open. It's a challenge!
 

Woody girl

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With overhead electrical wires, the three phase 11,000v ones, have a live zone of 1m. That means there is a possibility of arcing, so no cutting if the air is moist with fog or drizzle.

Quotes of £1000 to remove a Rhododendron sound excessive, that’s big tree money.

That's good advice!
I think the price was high because of the wires and attendant risks.
 

Nice65

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The wires shouldn’t drive the price up. They can either do it or they can’t. If it’s unsafe then the power needs to be turned off, you don’t get charged risk money in case someone gets zapped by 11,000v, they’re trying it on.

If you and a friend can get the work done, however long it takes, with hand tools and green bins it simply isn’t a £1000 job.
 
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henchy3rd

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If you do manage to cut it down, you’ll have to turn the ground & burn/torch the roots as it’ll just come back.
 

Woody girl

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The wires shouldn’t drive the price up. They can either do it or they can’t. If it’s unsafe then the power needs to be turned off, you don’t get charged risk money in case someone gets zapped by 11,000v, they’re trying it on.

If you and a friend can get the work done, however long it takes, with hand tools and green bins it simply isn’t a £1000 job.

Yes, we've been working slowly all summer, a bit at a time. Cleared an overgrown greenhouse, made a veg bed and taken out dozens of brambles. So far, we have taken out one ornamental tree of unknown parentage, one small flowering cherry, that was in the wrong place, and most of a sad diseased pear tree with no fruit for the past two years and half dead.
Just the large diseased cherry and rhododendron to go.
It already looks so much better, but we've left the hard work till last as the most improvements could be made by tackling the smaller stuff first.
 

Woody girl

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If you do manage to cut it down, you’ll have to turn the ground & burn/torch the roots as it’ll just come back.

That's exactly what I was afraid of. I had a suspicion it would. So stump killer no good then?
My pal won't want to dig up and redo the lawn!
We are on extreme budget!
 

henchy3rd

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There’s other ways of working to a budget.
I’ll work for repayment in some other form. I:E food or provide my services in return, but not for money when it comes to friends & family.
Stump killer won’t do much, plus it’s a nasty chemical that’ll do more harm than good.
It’s the roots & shoots that’s the problem, so it’s hard graft I’m afraid.
 
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Woody girl

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There’s other ways of working to a budget.
I’ll work for repayment in some other form. I:E food or provide my services in return, but not for money when it comes to friends & family.
Stump killer won’t do much, plus it’s a nasty chemical that’ll do more harm than good.
It’s the roots & shoots that’s the problem, so it’s hard graft I’m afraid.

Sadly round here it's hard to get anyone to do anything for anything other than money!
For instance, I need 9 concrete paving slabs picked up, and brought to my house, about 300 yards.. uphill.. No one "has the time" (like heck!) i'm taking them one at a time, on my wheeled walker. It's all I can manage due to back and mobility problems. Yet someone with a car will happily watch me struggle over and over.
String of naughty words!
Sometimes I hate this place!
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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I concur; I have had three professionals spend all day taking down a very large ash tree for far less than £1,000 and two clearing a large fallen oak for hundreds. However, if there's no money to do the job, it will have too be the slow (wo)man-power way! I must say I have never known a rural environment as 'selfish' as the one you describe though - I am appalled!

BTW, there is no evidence that the toxin in Rhododendron is carried in the smoke when it's burnt; they are destroyed in the heat.
 
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Woody girl

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That is not a £1000 job, that’s an hour with chainsaw and chipper/truck.

I know! That's why we are doing it ourselves! We are not fools! That photo only shows about half of it though, and it's grown since. That photo was taken late spring/early summer last year.
 

Nice65

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That photo only shows about half of it though, and it's grown since. That photo was taken late spring/early summer last year.
My job was clearing under and over powerlines. That thing would take 2 cutters dragging the stuff out about an hour, probably less. I reckon your mate should get some more quotes in. We had a 10 span (pole to pole) target a week, and on average we met it over a year taking into account clear spans and really difficult thick stuff. That’s just a puny bush, Friday afternoon breezer.
 
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dnarcher

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Hello, Woody girl, can I just ask roughly where you are now, I know your profile says from Exmoor, just wondered if you were still down there? If we knew where your tree is we might be able to lend a hand.
A fairly cheap tool that might help is the Ryobi pole saw, cutting capacity is only about 6 inches, but it's been a boon for my leylandii. And the great thing is the chainsaw bit is 6 foot from the handle, so I can still count to twenty
 

Woody girl

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Hi dnarcher, that's a nifty tool. I know about the extended hand pruning saw but hadn't seen one of those cordless minni chainsaws.
For a one off job, they are a bit expensive for my pal, but I may see if we can find one to borrow. Then save to purchase one, as it would be handy to have. My friend has already cut through the flex of her hedge trimmer, so is not to be trusted with flexed tools!
It would definatly make life easier.
Would still be a bit concerned about the overhead electric wires using that tho.
Better safe than sorry!

After research, we are going to see if the h/a can help, as the cherry is diseased and possibly if it fell could damage the wires and cause a power cut to many older people who live in the adjacent bungalows. We will play on their responsibility to tennents etc.
The rhododendron, I am beginning to tackle with the loppers this afternoon. We will do as much as we can between each green bin collection, and worry about the roots when we get to them..
We think that we may have to use chemicals as we don't have the energy to dig up the lawn to extract the roots, then replace the lawn! and we have 4 other stumps to deal with too. All in the lawn area.
The mini chainsaw lopper will go on my list of wants, as I have a difficult to prune shrub that has gone bonkers this year, and is now resting on my bungalow roof! I have done some of it, but its not easy to get up that high for me. I don't do ladders very well nowadays.
 

Woody girl

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Gives us a clue where you are, if its near Sheffield, I'll lend a hand, or at least tools☺️

Nowhere near I'm afraid. I live in the sw of England. Cornwall is nearer! Thanks for the offer though. Shame you are so far away, or I'd take you up on the offer.
Anyway, we are under control, done the rhododendron to head hight and revealed the tangled mess of trunks.
The cherry is being left for the h/a to sort, as once I had cleared some space, we found it was actualy grown over the electric wires.
Me no touch! Out of my league without having electric turned off . That means it's up to the housing association to sort, as its technically their property. Their problem.
 

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