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I moved into a house with a large mature cherry tree. The tree seems to have been severely neglected. The bark is peeling off from most of the large branches, I can see boring insects have made holes in the wood, and the Y where the trunk splits had soil and moss and weeds growing (which I have removed).

The tree bears a good amount of slightly tart fruit. My original plan was to prune this tree over a few years. However, 4 out of the 5 older branches (the top of the Y) have bark splitting and wood borer holes in them. There's a small new branch which is damage free.

Ideally, I'd like to

  1. Improve the shape of the tree so it looks aesthetically pleasing.
  2. Lower the tree from it's 10m height so it's easier to pick fruit.

Is it possible to covert this tree into a coppiced form if I cut across the tree tree horizontally? If not, how would one go about restoring it's shape and removing damaged branches.

Picture

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    I'm not convinced your "peeling bark" is an actual problem, rather than simply being mature bark, rather than young bark, from the picture. And your "borer holes" may simply be yellow-bellied sapsucker holes (can't see them in the picture, but fairly common and not serious, usually.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 27, 2023 at 14:34

3 Answers 3

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For lower odds of killing the tree, stick to the 4-5 year cutback plan, rather than whacking it off down low in one fell swoop.

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Has it been grafted? (Take a look here for pictures of grafted trees.) If yes, and you decide to cut the trunk hard back you must cut above the graft (otherwise you'll be growing the rootstock, not the grafted variety). If you do cut it hard back (a) use a sloping cut to shed rainwater, (b) be aware that you run the risk of the thing dying on you.

See here for general information about growing cherries.

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It doesn't look like Cherry will coppice well and it looks too old to survive such a drastic action.

  1. Choose the right species. Most broadleaf trees will sprout after coppicing, although species with good disease resistance are more likely to stay healthy. Most conifers (trees with needle leaves) will not regrow after coppicing.
  • Some common and reliable coppicing trees include oak, ash, hazel, sweet chestnut, sycamore, willow, most alder species, and lime.
  • The yew, monkey puzzle, and coast redwood can be coppiced despite being conifers.
  • Beech, birch, wild cherry, Italian alder, and some poplar species are less desirable choices, either sprouting weakly or only sprouting while the stump is fairly small.
  1. Start with young trees if possible. Younger trees are much more likely to grow back healthy and vigorous after severe pruning. You can attempt to coppice mature trees, but they are more likely to die, or to take two growing seasons to reshoot....

From WikiHow

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