How Improper Pruning Affects Your Trees
An arborist is a specialist in the cultivation and care of trees and shrubs, including tree surgery, the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tree diseases, and the control of pests as stated by dictionary.com. When an arborist prunes your trees, they plan how to make the certain cuts before jumping into it to make sure it is the best possible care for your tree.
The image to the left is an example of improper tree pruning. Improper tree pruning can cause a variety of issues almost immediately but also causes severe issues long term.
One of the most common mistakes when making cuts on a tree is cutting it too close to the main trunk. When this is done, you are removing a very crucial part of the tree tissue called the branch collar, where the cells help heal the wound. Without the callous that the branch collar create to help prevent disease from entering the trunk you are simply opening a wound that allows disease and pests to affect the tree, which if left untreated can ultimately kill the tree.
When one third or more of a tree's canopy is removed, photosynthesis is greatly reduced, leaving the tree unable to provide enough energy to sustain itself. We strongly believe that pruning 5% - 10% of a mature tree's foliage is ideal and pruning no more than 15% to 20% is recommended for optimal tree vigor. Sunscald can also occur if sections on the trees bark are exposed to direct sunlight and heat after removal of foliage that previously sheltered the bark. This can cause cankers, as well as splits in the bark, which provides an entry point for disease and insects.
Topping is cutting away a 50 to 100 percent of a tree's crown, or all the leafing branches across the top half of the tree. This can cause similar conditions to excessive pruning, reducing photosynthesis and causing dormant buds to become active, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree will need to put out a new crop of leaves soon after topping, and if it does not have the energy reserves to do so, will become seriously weakened and may die. Just like excessive pruning, sunscald may also occur as a result of topping. Topping a tree is never a recommended practice, but is sometimes done when trees outgrow their planned space, as a last result before cutting down. This pruning mistake is much more noticeable due to how it makes the tree look. This will leave you with an ugly and deformed tree that has a severely weakened branch structure. It is most common with trees that were planted in a space that is too small.
With pruning trees there are good times to prune and bad times. The proper pruning time depend on the species and the condition the tree is in. For example if a tree is already heavily stressed by growing conditions, insects or disease it would not be the best practice to heavily prune it. This would cause the tree to become more stressed while also trying to heal the wounds from pruning. Pruning too heavily in the hottest season could cause sunscald as mentioned above, which can damage the trunk bark with multiple wounds and cankers. Be sure to have a certified arborist take a look at your trees to assess their safety and health to assure their long term strength and beauty.
Proper Pruning Promotes Healthy Trees
Pruning, when done correctly will promote a happy and healthy tree! Check out why Pruning Trees and Shrubs is necessary.
If you have any questions or concerns about your trees please reach out to us at 877-308-8733.