Tree/Shrub Pruning (Trimming)
Why Prune Trees?
There are many reasons why we prune trees, which include:
A common misconception is that pruning should only be performed at certain times of year. On most trees light pruning can be performed at any time. If heavy pruning is necessary it's best to avoid pruning during the spring growth flush. During this time excessive sprouting can occur, bark and cambium are easily damaged and the tree's energy reserves are at their lowest point. Once the leaves have hardened and turned dark green heavy pruning will be less stressful. One exception to this general rule are fruit trees. Because fireblight is a common problem in our region it is recommended that most fruit trees only be pruned when dormant (November thru February).
Proper Pruning Techniques:
Structural Pruning-Most shade trees evolved in the forest, they grew straight and tall because there was fierce competition for light. When we plant them in areas with an abundance of light, trees tend to grow multiple trunks, excessively large or long lateral branches and often have too many branches originating from one point on the trunk, all of which contribute to weak structure. The goal of structural pruning is to mimic the form we see in nature. A single dominant trunk and evenly spaced branches form strong structure, thus a healthier long lived tree. Structural pruning should be performed every 3 to 5 years, for the first 25 years of a trees life.
Thinning-Thinning the canopy allows more light to penetrate to the center of the tree. This increases the growth interior foliage, increasing trunk diameter, strengthening the interior structure of the tree. It also improves airflow, reducing likelihood of disease and storm damage.
Canopy Reduction-Sometimes a tree grows too big for it's space. The best way to avoid this is proper plant selection, however it's often preferable to perform a reduction rather than removal and replacement. When a reduction is performed branches are cut back to a lateral which is big enough to assume apical dominance over the branch. While this is typically not good for the tree, it is often the best available option, far better than topping or heading cuts.
Crown Cleaning-Crown cleaning is simply removing dead, dying, broken defective and diseased limbs from the tree. This removes pathogens from the area, reducing the spread of disease. It also reduces hazards to people and property below or around the tree.
Lifting the Canopy-Lifting is the removal of lower branches to provide clearance for people, vehicles or structures. Over lifting is harmful to the tree, as it removes foliage, reducing the energy producing ability of the tree. However, procrastinating will allow the branches that must be removed eventually to grow large, resulting in large pruning wounds which are potentially harmful to the tree. Lifting the canopy slowly over time will be best for the health of your tree, while also satisfying your needs.