Tree on a Grave Q

scandia(7)September 1, 2009

2 years ago my neighbor saved a OLD horse she was 30 years old. I let her keep the horse on my property because she does not have enough land for a horse to graze or excersise properly. In February this year the horse was down on the ground for hours. The Vet said she was dying and in pain. My neighbor had her put to sleep. The county came out and buried her on my property. I have planted German Iris', a variety of bulbs and a variety of daylilies on her grave. I want to plant a tree. The Royal Empress Tree. Her name was Fancy, she had 5 grand Champions in her blood line. I think a Royal Empress Tree if fitting for Fancy.

My Question is....Can I plant a Tree on a Horse Grave so soon, or should I wait until more decomposition is complete?

The county did bury her deep. I did not watch it, I couldn't. But the worker assured she is 10 ft deep. The mound has not gone down and it is splitting. I think it is splitting because of the decomposition. There is no bad odor.

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How quickly the horse decomposes is going to depend on the soil. When I was growing up we lived about 1/2 mile from the Jefferson county highway and road department in Ketona between Tarrant and Gardendale. The soil at the county shops was red mud gumbo clay. For years the road crews would pick up dead animals such as horses, mules, dogs, etc. and use a backhoe to bury them in the clay gumbo. They decided to build a shop to build concrete pipe. They bulldozed the burial site which they had not used for year and uncovered what appeared to be almost fresh animal carcasses. Talk about smelling bad. It smelled worse than the old meat plant that used to be in Birmingham. We were told the clay had sealed the carcasses so they didn't decompose. If your horse is 10 feet deep and you plant no deeper than a couple of feet I don't think you will have any problems growing a tree. My only worry is that the spot hasn't collapsed or sunken. Is there a rush to plant a tree in that spot? I think I would wait another year for the ground to settle. Are you aware that Paulownia trees are very soft wood which grows very quickly and is therefore prone to breakage.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 8:20PM
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The ground is not sunken in yet. The mound seems to be just as big as it was the day Fancy was buried. And it is VERY RED clay with lots of limestone in it. I wish I would have thought to have my neighbor put some powdered lime in there.

I was looknig at the Paulpwnia because it grows SO fast. I am reconsidering based on your input. The area is open to any high winds that come through..I have a fuji apple tree that I grew from a seed. It is 2 feet tall, in a pot I might put that there. Or I have a Tulip popular that is 3 feet tall that I grew from a sprout I found on my property. I have lots of tree babies just growing in the wild on my property. I am also considering a Shag Bark Hickory, Silver Maple, or Sassafrass.

If you know which one grows the fastest and can take SUN, WIND and RED CLAY I would appreciate input.

I love the way a Shag Bark Hickory's canopy grows, maybe I'll do that. I also have access to Mimosa tree babies, oaks, holiday, persimon.

That area needs a shade tree.

I am thinking about waiting.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 9:51PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

Do you need to plant the tree right on top of the grave? Why not put it a couple of feet from Fancy's head so it won't sink as the body decomposes. By the time the roots grow out over the grave, the ground might have settled enough that the tree won't be affected.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 8:06AM
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Yes I could plant it away from the mound near where her head is.

Now I just need to figure out what kind of tree can take the wind that comes through there..I think it will have to be some sort of hard wood.

The county worker is the one who suggested planting a tree on the mound that is where I got the idea. He said the decomposition would help the tree grow faster and the tree would help to hold the ground in place..

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 10:46AM
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I know this may sound silly to some but I want her to be in the shade.

When my neighbor rescued her and brought her here she was nothing but skin and bones. Walking death. I have a beautiful pasture area, she grazed all day. By the following day the light had come back into her eyes. Over the next month she gained weight and became beautiful again. She ran around like a young filly. She enjoyed her last years here. Even though she was not my horse I helped to bring her back.

I was attached to this horse because she was bred so many times, used for her bloodline,traded and sold and left to dye by starvation by the owner she had before my neighbor rescued her.

I just want her to have some lovely shade.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 11:39AM
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I think a nice tulip poplar would be great. They have beautiful greenish-yellow and orange blooms and the trees are so pretty. They grow pretty fast. A smaller tree that blooms beautifully would be a flowering crabapple, especially Brandywine. It is a larger, double pink flower. Apples of all kinds are usually long lived trees. I know where there is an apple tree that was a grown tree when my dad was a teenager 80 years ago. The last time I saw it, it was still bearing apples.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 6:21PM
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I have a Tulip Poplar baby, if I re pot it one more time before I plant it, it should be 4-5 ft tall by October. Everytime I put it in a bigger pot it grows a foot..I have Tulip Poplars on my property that are 200 years old. Not that I would ever see it get that old.

Should I plant it next to the mound or on the mound?
Should I wait til next year?

I will try to find a Brandywine crab apple. What about the Fuji Apple tree that I grew from a seed? I have no idea how big it will get, I took the seed out of a apple I bought at the market. Same thing with this apple tree everytime I re pot it it grows a foot.

I am using dried up horse manure to grow them.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 8:40PM
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According to Willis Orchards: The Fuji Apple Tree may be considered the finest apple to take southern summer heat. The Fuji Apple Tree is the latest ripening southern apple, coming off the tree in mid-September. 350-400 chill hours. Pollinizer needed.

Blooms single white with pink blush. Brandywine crabapple has double blooms, deep pink. You can usually get them at WalMart, Lowe's, and Home Depot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fuji Apple

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 9:15PM
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I know: I keep going on and on with my amateur Q's.

BUT does anybody know if the advice the county worker gave me, is right?? i.e. "planting a tree on the mound would help the tree grow and help the ground stay in place."

Really I am wondering if the decomposition, because it is such a large animal, would kill the tree/trees.

Thanks Tsmith, you always give me good sound advice and suggestions. I APPRECIATE it. I will call around and see if I can find a Brandywine Crabapple.

The Fuji apple that I have is the only seed out of the apple that grew. I had a bunch of Granny Smith apple sprouts but I gave them away. SO I need to harvest some seeds from more apples and grow a pollinizer. I am assuming that you mean I need another Fuji Tree so they can pollinate, each other..right?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 11:00AM
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catbird(z7 AL)

If you plant it near, but not directly on top of the mound, the roots should grow out over the mound pretty quickly where it could stabilize the soil and access any nutrients from the decomposition. I would think, though, that with the body buried so far below the ground it may be a while before the nutrients find their way to the top foot of soil where the roots will be anyway. Tree roots grow OUT, not DOWN, contrary to popular belief. Just put the tree where it will give her some shade and add beauty to her grave and the tree will get whatever it needs.

It sounds like she was a lucky horse to have so much love and good care in her last years and she obviously brought a lot of joy to you. Enjoy the happy memories.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 10:01PM
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It was a miracle that she lived to be 32. It was her time. I just have this strange need to give her shade and make her grave pretty. Next spring when the Day lily's and bulbs start coming up her grave is going to be a mound of color. I guess it is a level of grief.

I will probably wait til Fall to put the trees out there that way I know they will be somewhat established and may survive the summer heat. If we don't have a drought again they should be fine. I lost 2 giant Oaks during the last drought.

Thanks for all your help

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 9:37AM
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