Ground layering a hornbeam?

Stan Kengai

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Back-story: I have an American Hornbeam that was collected from a stream bed last spring. It is currently growing in a garden bed and will probably be there for several more years as the trunk is only about 2" right now. (Aside: I know, why not collect a larger tree? This tree was growing like a bush, and has good movement in the trunk rather than the ramrod straight trunks you normally see with this species.)

Problem: The tree had about 2 inches of silt deposited on it, and the fine feeder roots were growing up and matted into the deposited soil immediately around the tree (which made for easy collecting). Over the summer, I slowly exposed those feeder roots to kill them back, as new feeders grew further down. What is left is a tangle of unevenly placed would-be surface roots with no butressing or trunk flare. Therefore, I want to ground layer the tree, and I would prefer to use the wire tourniquet method. I do not want to entirely ring the bark on this large of a tree. However, I'm afraid that a tourniquet would not be very effective on this tree because of its uneven and rippled shape and its slow growth.

Question: Can I use a hybrid method of wiring and removing bark where the wire will not immediately cut in? Could the tourniquet alone work, just taking somewhat longer? Can I use the tourniquet and concurrently do root-grafts to fill the gaps?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Stan
 

Ang3lfir3

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Stan,

do you happen to have any pictures of what you are talking about?? its hard to imagine the scenario you are having and I wonder if layering of any kind is really required.... Is there some sort of reverse taper or just a lack of nebari ...

anyways a few pictures to illustrate the area you want to improve and the tree as a whole would be really be helpful.....
 

Stan Kengai

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I don't know that a picture will tell the whole story (hence the long description above), because the "surface" roots are still covered by at least 1/2 inch of the fine root matting. I'm going mostly by what I can feel underneath the mat and around the trunk. The biggest problem is that the bigger lateral roots come out of the trunk at different levels (I assume because of silt being deposited at different times) and they twist and turn side to side and up and down (picture roller coaster roots). There is no nebari to speak of, and I don't see any way of making one with the current contorted roots. And the shape of the trunk is not round, but more rectangular with indentations and ripples.

I'm not looking to do this any time soon, 2013 at the earliest. This spring I will bare root and see what exactly I have to work with, and I will replant in the garden a few inches higher than previously, if there was sufficient rooting this year. That will probably be my first opportunity to get a picture to show what is going on. This morning I did a little pruning and put the tree to bed for the winter, so to speak, and I've been puzzling in my mind what options I might have in the future. Perhaps I should put this thread to bed for the winter and bring it back up in the spring when I can get some pics.
 

JudyB

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Stan, I remember reading a thread somewhere else about a tree with this exact issue. I can't remember what they did or where I read it... But I'll go hunting around and see if I can find and post a link...
J
 

Stan Kengai

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Stan, I remember reading a thread somewhere else about a tree with this exact issue. I can't remember what they did or where I read it... But I'll go hunting around and see if I can find and post a link...
J

Thank you, Judy. Don't take too much time looking because I have plenty of time to consider my options.
 

Beng

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Hey Stan, did you end up doing a ground layer last year by applying a tourniquet? I have a similar situation with a hornbeam, although it's only on one side of my trunk. My trunk is split like a v right now with one sides nebari way below soil level and the other sides right at soil level.
 

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