We cut our grass weekly and trim our shrubs quarterly, yet we often neglect pruning our trees. Tree pruning is often the last item on the list of considerations we beautify in our outdoor landscapes. Yet, tree pruning is a vital aspect to landscape maintenance and many preventative measures can be taken to ensure the lasting beauty of these natural assets. Pruning not only reduces the risk of branch or total tree failure, but proper pruning helps to keep your trees attractive, vigorous, and can add years of service to a young tree.
Top 3 Things You Need to Know when Pruning a Tree
1. Late winter and early spring is the best time of year to prune.
2. Asking what to keep not what to take away is the right approach. You are shaping the future of your tree.
3. A proffesional will never suggest you "top" or "cut back" a tree. Always work with an expert!
Proper pruning is a selective process combining both art and science-think of it as decorating a flower arrangement. Most often, you must not think in terms of "what to remove," but instead, "what to keep." This is where Community Tree Preservation's Arborists excel. For twelve years we have promoted proper arboricultural pruning techniques and the full preservation of trees. In fact, it is our business model, "We don't talk to trees, we listen to them." By envisioning what your goals are prior to starting a chainsaw, you can reduce the overall material to be removed. Remember, the cuts you make now will show themselves for years in the trees new shape. If you are unsure of the goal you wish to achieve, allow our Certified Arborist to walk you through what can be accomplished to achieve your goal, while ensuring the health of your trees.
Knowing the right time to prune is also critical in the decision-making process. For most deciduous trees in Nashville, TN, simple pruning can be accomplished most any time of year, with only a few exceptions throughout the growing season. Ideally, the best time to prune is late in the winter, or in the early spring-prior to bud swell and leaf set. The tree is dormant during this time of year, yet has stored energy reserves to effectively heal the cuts that are to be made. This directs the stored energy reserves to healing, bud swelling, and leaf set while reserves are at their highest, not after bud swell and leaf set when the tree has expended all its energy to bloom. Pruning after bud swell and leaf set (an extreme energy-expending period) will greatly stress a tree as it has just exerted a great deal of energy, thereby reducing its ability to heal the pruning cuts.
Lastly, understanding that trees have a natural growth habit which is pre-determined by genetics helps us to work with nature, rather than against it. You should never "top" a tree for any reason. Topping is a major threat to the overall health of your trees. It is the indiscriminate "cutting back" of branches with no regard to the trees health or aesthetic beauty. Topping leaves behind unsightly nubs that never heal, promotes disfigured water sprout production, and creates a tree that will ultimately return to the original height it would have achieved prior to the topping. If you hear buzz words like "top," "lower the height," "cut back," or "reduce in length," do a bit of research. These are all misnomers in the arboricultural industry and anyone using the words is likely not a Certified Arborist. Contact Community Tree Preservation to determine a better plan of action and receive a free, second opinion. Remember, these are your trees, and the actions of today, will give you the results of tomorrow and beyond-both the good and the bad!