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This tree is growing into the gutter. I'm wondering what is a good long-lasting strategy to deal with it in a way that is respectful of the environment, i.e. the city does not allow cutting any trees.

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    You're sure the city doesn't allow any cutting? Looks like there'd be a giant limb growing through your roof if they didn't :) While cities / HOAs may restrict the cutting down of trees (you usually just have to replant one in its place), none should restrict the pruning of trees, especially when a tree is encroaching on a structure. – mmathis Jun 21 '17 at 14:37
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    Go to the relevant city office and show them that picture and find out your options. I doubt the city will prioritize the tree over your house if you argue long enough. – ratchet freak Jun 21 '17 at 14:42
  • That tree has already been cut. Whoever did it knew how to get round the regulations. – RedSonja Jun 22 '17 at 8:41
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It's hard to say from that photo, but it looks like that bulge is the stump of a limb that could be trimmed back further. Really that's a question for an arborist, though. If you do so you'll want to pick the right time of year to help prevent fungal infection.

I agree that you're probably misinterpreting your city's ordinance, though. No sane city government would prevent a homeowner from protecting his dwelling from invasive plants.

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    It's not good to seal tree wounds; see gardening.stackexchange.com/q/13760/26 and the article it cites agrilife.org/treecarekit/after-the-storm/tree-wounds for more information. – Niall C. Jun 21 '17 at 16:17
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    In addition to what @NiallC. has said about sealants not helping. The branch appears to have been cut exactly where it should have been and the wound has largely to entirely healed over. Cutting closer to the tree would not just re-open the wound but damage or destroy the bark collar and prevent it from healing over in the future. gunnisoncountygardening.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/… – Dan Neely Jun 21 '17 at 17:58
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    Would I risk killing a tree that was so close to my home's structure? Yup. Your mileage may vary. – isherwood Jun 21 '17 at 18:03
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    The tree is close enough to the building that taking it down may be the correct call. Slicing open the wound and preventing it from healing will generate a rot pocket at roof level and increase the likelihood of the tree snapping off and landing on the building. That is definitely the wrong thing to do. – Dan Neely Jun 21 '17 at 19:18
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I agree with mmathis' comment that the ideal solution is to present the issue to the city to deal with the tree. The tree will only continue to be more intrusive.

That being said, if you have to deal with the tree as is, the best solution would be to shorten the gutter by either cutting it and installing a new end cap or replacing that section of gutter with a shorter one. You will want to install a diverter (also called a shield) on the roof. This is simply an "L" shaped piece of metal. One leg of the "L" will slide under the shingles and the other will stick up. You will want to install this at an angle to kick the water from the edge of the roof over to the shortened gutter. Be sure not to allow debris to build up, but given the proximity of that tree, you are probably already cleaning you gutters very frequently. Something like this photo.

enter image description here

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    Would such an approach require a pre-existing waterproof membrane below the shingles? If such a membrane isn't known to exist, I would think one would risk having water get backed up enough to creep under some of the shingles. – supercat Jun 21 '17 at 19:25
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    Depending on climate and weather patterns this specific solution could result in very expensive damage. Don't follow it without understanding your roof and your area, or consult with an insured roofing professional before doing it. – Adam Davis Jun 21 '17 at 20:24
  • That's a pretty short term solution. The tree is going to keep growing and its trunk will get fatter. – RedSonja Jun 22 '17 at 8:42
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Sooner or later, this tree is going to do more damage to your house than bend your gutters. Its roots are under your foundations, and as they grow they will eventually crack them and cause subsidence. Talk to your city about your options, and get an expert to deal with the tree, sooner rather than later, as the more damage it does the more expensive it will be to repair.

  • That rather depends on the house structure and foundations. It is quite possible to built flexible buildings without foundations. – Martin Bonner Jun 22 '17 at 8:49
  • @MartinBonner - Yes, but my experience suggests that they're rather unusual, and therefore OP is unlikely to have such a house. If he lives in an area where they are more common, advice from a local specialist will help in that case too. – Jules Jun 22 '17 at 10:10
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A strong wind could push the tree closer to the gutter, and an earthquake could shake either the house or the tree so they hit each other hard, so severe damage to the gutter is possible. I suggest pointing that out to the tree's owner.

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