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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Charlotte NC
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    Default trees in above ground landscape beds

    We have landscape beds that are 1-2 feet above grade. They are made up of stacked railroad ties. In the beds, we have 30+ year old trees. We would love to remove the landscape beds, but since these trees have been growing there, the roots would be partially above ground. Is there any way to save the trees?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    The only way to save the trees is to change your thinking on the landscape. Most of the tree's roots will be within the raised bed, so removing any dirt from the bed will kill the tree. Rather than remove the beds, can you remove the RR ties and build up dirt around the bed to create mounds? While you may not be able to save all the trees, you could do this with a few specific trees and make specimens out of them.

    Another idea would be to change out the RR ties for either landscape timbers or stacking retaining wall blocks which would update landscape considerably.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    I see your point...Quite frankly, I'm not too in love with the trees.

    There are some trees that would be WAAAAY to far above ground to survive. However, I think some trees could be saved...There's a few that are not too far above the "normal grade". See pics...








  4. #4
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    This one would probably survive removing the RR ties and gently reshaping the ground back to original grade. At worst, all you would have to do is keep the retaining wall area furthest from the tree.


    This tree will likely survive if you wanted to remove the RR ties and carefully regrade the sidewalk side of the bed back down to normal grade. I would fill in behind the tree to create a symmetrical base for the elevated tree.


    These would survive without the RR ties, but with the roots that close to the surface, you may not want them. At the very least I'd want to cover up the root systems so that grass or some other ground cover could be applied and the area more suited to use. Foot traffic or anything else over exposed roots like that will damage the trees.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    I can see why you would like to get rid of the RR ties. I think sruce pretty much nailed it. Looks like you'll get a decent amount of firewood too. Sound like a win/win if you have a fireplace.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    These railraod ties have run their course and should be replaced, as Spruce suggested, at least in the first and second pictures.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd replace them all with nice brick facade retaining walls to go with the house. Then add a lot of mulch around the trees as Spruce suggested. The trees will have fair chances to survive.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    Quote Originally Posted by ed21 View Post
    I can see why you would like to get rid of the RR ties. I think sruce pretty much nailed it. Looks like you'll get a decent amount of firewood too. Sound like a win/win if you have a fireplace.
    I'm hoping you're not referring to the RR ties being firewood! Removed trees, yes, RR ties a definite no-no!
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    I'm hoping you're not referring to the RR ties being firewood! Removed trees, yes, RR ties a definite no-no!
    Spruce, you forgot to mention why burning railroad ties at home is not a good idea: it's treated. Just as you don't burn stained/painted wood in your fireplace, you don't burn treated wood.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    That's because I knew you'd be along soon enough to add that little tidbit.

    The thing with RR ties is that they are treated with all manner of toxic chemicals like creosote, formaldehyde, arsenic, and a host of other baddies! These things weren't safe to begin with, let alone to be used as landscape material.

    Same goes for all treated wood, while the older stuff is definitely worse than what is available today, today's treated materials are still toxic and should be handled, used, and disposed of with care.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: trees in above ground landscape beds

    I thought it pretty much goes without saying that you don't burn old rr ties. They are pretty good for smoking ribs though.

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