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I just moved into a new house, and in the garden there's wonderful silver birch tree, about 25 feet tall (I'm guessing there).

It appears that it is/was a weeping variety, but it seems to have grown rather straight and perhaps taller than it was intended in recent years - perhaps due to bad maintenance, I'm not sure.

There are some pictures of the tree here: http://imgur.com/a/TDVV1 birch

I would like to know how I should look after it, and if possible, how to recover its weeping shape. It still does have lots of weeping branches, just some (stronger, likely newer) ones growing straight up now as well.

I am no tree expert, but would like to know how to do this myself.

Thanks in advance :-)

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You need to remove any and all straight growing branches from their point of origin, in other words, right at the base of where they're growing from. Without knowing the variety of Birch, its difficult to know whether yours is grafted or not - some are grafted onto a different root stock, some are grafted at the top of a long stem or trunk. In the latter case, you can see the graft, it looks like a lumpy bit at the top of the stem from which all growth arises. Even if your tree is a naturally weeping cultivar, these sometimes revert and produce straight growth, and any reverted growths like this need to be removed asap or they will grow faster and stronger than the weeping parts. Note that Birch should be cut in summer, or they have an inclination to 'bleed' profusely.

UPDATE: Remove all straight growth if you want to restore the weeping habit, and do it as you describe, right at the graft point. There's really no choice if you want the tree to be weeping rather than upright.

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  • Thanks for the detailed answer. I have added a few photos (see the link in the original question). It doesn't appear grafted at the root, but the stem could be, or else it's just been heavily pruned at some point. Thanks! – Peter Lewis Jul 23 '13 at 11:02
  • It looks like a top graft to me. Note the thick area where many branches come from. – kevinsky Jul 23 '13 at 22:38
  • Okay, so Bamboo's answer should be the way to go then, right? Basically, I should remove the branches which are growing straight up from the graft, right above the graft, and I should do this soon (i.e during the summer). Even given how much of the tree this probably means removing, I won't do it any damage, will I? Obviously, once I've removed those branches, I don't get a second chance, so just wanted to be sure :-) Thanks. – Peter Lewis Jul 24 '13 at 9:00

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