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Pruning

As an art form, using scientific techniques according to world-class standards (ANSI). Our main focus here is the structure and longevity of shade and ornamental trees and shrubs. WE DO NOT TOP TREES! Proper pruning is done so that wounding is kept to a minimum, because trees do not heal. Wounds lead to decay, decay leads to cavities, and a tree with significant cavities becomes hazardous. Improper or aggressive pruning can be the beginning of the end for a tree. Pruning done with many smaller cuts callous over more readily, and produce fewer cavities than pruning done with fewer larger cuts. We strive to limit wounding of the trunk and major limbs, choosing rather to reduce them and maintain the integrity of the trunk and major limbs.

Pruning schedule is generally 5-10 years for mature shade trees, 3-7 years for younger developing trees, 2-5 years for newly installed trees and ornamentals. Site and growing conditions can change these periods.

Some pruning terms defined

  • Clean: remove dead, diseased, dying, broken and rubbing branches. This allows the tree to callous over wounds and removes hazards.
  • Raise, Clearance: provide vertical clearance, typically 8' for yard, 8'vertical for buildings, and 10'-14' for driveway
  • Reduction: Reducing the length or spread. This is done to effect how a tree grows, generally near buildings or other plants, and to reduce the weight load. Limb removal is part of this strategy.
  • Restoration: Done to a tree that has been topped or storm damaged, it includes removal of stems with too much decay to hold future growth, and thinning of shoots that have sprouted from the topped or broken stem. Care is given to keep well-attached shoots with the best placement for future growth.
  • Subordinate: A reduction and thinning process. This is commonly done to slow down the growth of a limb or stem that is to be removed in a later pruning cycle, or to help relieve a co-dominant stem or weak attachment situation. Pruning a limb slows down its rate of growth relative to the rest of the tree.
  • Thin: Reduce density of live branches. This allows light penetration for trees, shrubs, and grass growing beneath the tree and reduces "wind sail" - the wind's ability to break the tree apart. Trees in the forest grow sparsely due to shade. Sunlight is a stimulant, and trees grown in the open lawn grow more densely and weakly, due to poor branch attachment angles. A narrow branch attachment is inherently weak.

    Young trees are pruned to develop good structure, and to begin reducing limbs that will later be removed or reduced to keep them from growing where they are unwanted as into buildings, or low over the yard. This keeps the tree from using energy and nutrients on limbs it will loose, and keeps wounding to a minimum.

Copyright 2017 The Gentle Arborist, Inc.