Mesquite Growing on Dam - other places

   #1  

dalroo

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Hello TBN, earlier this year we purchased a property in central Texas. We really enjoy it and have made a number of improvements so far including building a barn, installing septic, adding power, water, and a drive in from gate. As I said in another post, probably the most challenging work I've done so far is clearing mesquite.

Not knowing better, early on, when mowing, I shredded quite a few 1" and smaller mesquites. Big mistake. Without killing the root system, mesquite gets angry and grows back as a bush instead of a single stalk. Lesson learned, and since I've used a combination process of first spraying the mesquite with remedy/diesel mix, and after it has died, going back and cutting the dead tree out. That seems to work, but there remains the issue of some root structure. Since the ones I've done are fairly small trees, I am hoping that doesn't cause me problems when I starting discing the reclaimed land. On larger trees, I am leaning toward renting a skid steer with a grubber so I can make sure I get most of the sub material out cleanly.

Also, we have a nice deep dam on the property that looks like it hasn't been touched in years, if ever. As a result, there are a number of large (6" diameter) mesquites growing from the top and sides of the dam. I am concerned that they could cause long-term damage to the dam, but think trying to remove them may cause even more. If you've dealt with mesquite, you know the tap root can be ridiculously deep. First problem would be how to even access with the equipment needed to get the tap root out, and then what damage would it do to the dam getting it done. Right now I'm leaning toward simply killing the smaller trees so the problem doesn't become worse. Longer term, I think the best course would be to go in and spray the bigger trees, and once dead, chop them down to ground level, but leave the root structure in place so as not to create voids in the dam. My thinking is that over time, the roots will rot, but will simply fill in with rock and soil. The other solution may be just to let them be, but I've got to think they are sucking a great deal of moisture from the tank.

Any suggestions? I've heard the extension office may have dam experts. I'm going to be checking with them soon.
 
   #2  

davesl708

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Don't let them be. They get bigger with longer roots heading towards the water on the other side. Cut them now and back fill as the root ball decays. They should never have been allowed to grow on a dam but now your stuck with the problem. You may try and remove all the root ball by hand. Back filling the root ball and planting good grass should preserve the dam.
 
   #3  

EddieWalker

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I'm not a fan of skid steers. They are the do everything tool, but it's not the best for anything tool. Nothing is better at getting trees with roots out of the ground then an excavator. They are more money, but when you do it right the first time, it will save you money in the long term.

For your dam, I would probably wait until the dry season. Disturbing the dirt on a dam, and hoping a heavy rain doesn't create a lot of erosion is asking for Murphy's Law to happen. It's just not worth the potential issues that might happen. To do it right, you will need to dig out the roots, then add fill material and spread it out. Until you get good grass cover growing over it, you risk it washing away and become a ditch with each storm afterwards.
 
  
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dalroo

dalroo

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Good points - I am going to take my time and do it right. I called the Extension office and they put me in touch with the Natural Resources Conservation Office. His first suggestion was to get the smaller trees out now, and then do exactly as mentioned here, kill the larger trees, cut them out, and then backfill as need to minimize any erosion. His opinion is that any trees on the front tow are not as big a big deal, but those on the rear tow could cause more problems down the road.
 
  
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dalroo

dalroo

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Almost a catch-22. Can't leave them, can't just cut them down. Like Eddie's suggestion and waiting til dry season gives me time to formulate a plan. The dam is probably 50 years old, so don't think it will fail tomorrow. I just don't want to sit by and do nothing, and then have really big repair expenses down th road.
 
   #9  

EddieWalker

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Wouldn't those roots help stabilize the banks?

For as long as they are healthy and growing, yes. Unfortunately, roots are a source of food and home for some animals. When the tree is alive, it's roots are getting bigger, and opening up paths for water to exit the pond. When a tree dies, or a root is so damaged from wildlife, it decomposes and instead of holding the soil together, it now becomes a major source of weakness to a dam.
 
 
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