Pruning a neglected silver birch?

21 Sep 2013
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United Kingdom
This is my mates garden around the corner from me, since getting the house about six years ago he hasn't touched the back of the garden behind the shed.
He's after tidying up the back of the garden and I'll be giving him a hand.

This summer it looked like this:


End of this summer the two trees which had awkwardly grown around the birch were removed and the 6ft weeds of various types cleared.
This has also removed all the overhang from the 3 properties to his sides.

Now it looks like this:


It's a nice big tree but rather spindly with an odd shape as its had to grow past the others in competition for light.

So, what to do with it?

I'll be scurrying it it at some point in the near future and pulling off all the dead ivy that's wrapped around it but what can be done to improve the shape?

I understand it's coming up to the right time of year for.pruning betula, but I've not really done anything with them before and hear they're a little fragile.

Can it be topped about 3m shorter to.form a new crown?
Can the current branches just be pollarded back?

Will this let it grow back to a better shape or will it just kill it?

The birches across the road from me were topped and pollarded a few years back,
I remember being horrified at the time, but they're now a great shape (wrong was I, haha).
They were smaller to begin with though.

Will it actually just sort it's self out after a few years if left alone?

So, advice please...
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I'd leave it.

It's the best feature of the entire picture.

I agree, the whole block of gardens looks better for having it and it would be sorely missed, especially as it breaks up the view of the elderly flats nicely.

There is no intention to kill or remove the tree, just get it looking it's best.
I don't want to prune it, it's not even my tree(!)
But if it's necessary or beneficial then it's worth the effort.

I'll rip the dead weed off of it and I guess we'll see what nature makes of it within a couple of years.

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