Slvrmple72, Ohio: “Four silvers in the backyard about 30 feet from the house and all of them had been topped/improperly pruned about seven years ago. The one at the back corner of the house had flush cuts done on limbs near the base of the trunk opposite of each other, resulting in two hollow cavities that have joined in a trunk that is about 15 degrees leaning towards [the] house. I recommended removal after he stated that a sewer line will be put in. The others are ugly, with several large (6 to 8-inch diameter ) main branches 2 to 3 feet in length that are dead. Thankfully, the hickory in the front yard was not touched and looks beautiful, needing only a light cleaning and reduction. Talking with the homeowner, it became clear that his concern for the silver maples in the backyard was the canopies reaching over the roof and the damage potential from shedding limbs, as well as gutter buildup from debris. I talked him out of re-topping the trees, recommending instead to remove a few limbs on the trees to redirect growth of the canopy away from the house, as well as repair the canopies (remove dead branches, scarred, stubs, waterspouts). Anyhow, my question is this: How many of you have the owner commit to some sort of upkeep for the gradual repair/maintenance of trees in this condition with the understanding that not doing so waives any liability you have for the work you perform? I see these trees requiring a follow-up in the fall/spring, and then again in at least two to three years.”

Kennertree, Tennessee: “Just get it in writing. I just did a job a few weeks ago starting a restoration on six sugar maples and a large elm. He committed to doing the work over a period of three to four years. This time around I just removed deadwood, any crossover branches at the topping cuts and branches that needed to be reduced to help avoid breaking.”

Bermie, Bermuda: “After a topping restoration I tell the homeowner I will stop by from time to time to have a look. If I see anything that needs attention within a few months of the first restoration attempt, I call them and let them know, then go and do the work. Usually, small branches may break if a bit of wind comes through and need a tidy up. I also tell them that the tree will need an annual visit for at least three to five years. I’ve got about six months to go on the first few I’ve done.”

Masterarbor, Ohio: “It’s a labor of love to do crown restoration. My favorite part has got to be the poor tie-in and weak branch unions. Who’s in the mood for some shimmying?”

John Paul Sanborn, Wisconsin: “Crown restorations can be fulfilling and generate more work, aside from the revolving account they make with that client.

“I would be uncomfortable with signed proposal three years out. Two ways I’ve gone with it is to put in the agreement that the client is responsible for contacting for rescheduling, or that I will be calling back in three years. It is also worded that the past treatment has made it inherently weak and that they need to have a regular cycle of treatment to reduce risk of failure. There is no way you can write it to force them to allow the work three years down the road.

“I do know a guy who does espalier, pollard and such where he has them pay for a five-year commitment upfront. They are usually small jobs that need him to be there at a given time in the season. I do not know how he words it, but from what I understand he has carried it over between owners on estates. This may be a way to do it in trees that have a lot of old sprouts and may be best to go slowly with over a long period of time.”

Thillmaine, Massachusetts: “I just have one bit of arboricultural advice: leave water shoots around the cavities, you need all the wood you can in that area.”

John Paul Sanborn, Wisconsin: “Good advice, wound wood production increases near leaf mass. Gilman has shown that actual compartmentalization, i.e. reaction changes, is more pronounced the closer leaf bearing branches are to wounds. Another scientific rational for not doing a raise and gut.”

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