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Tree Pruning FAQ
Will My Tree Blow Over In A Wind Storm?
No one can say for sure. Many of my customers have gotten conflicting answers from certified arborists that also work for the tree service companies and were left confused or uncertain of which path to take. If you are not comfortable, it is best to get the opinion of an independent consulting arborist if you have any doubt about whether or not the tree is stable and safe.
Are My Trees A Safety Hazard?
It is difficult for an untrained eye to recognize whether a tree is unsafe. Tree service estimators are rarely independent and often recommend a more expensive job than they really believe is necessary. We don’t do this! Sometimes all it takes is wind sailing or cleaning out the inner canopy to make a tree much more stable. Other trees may have a lean and can be corrected by balancing. We will always give you honest information so that you can make the right decision for your property.
Many older trees will have dead wood and branches hung up in them. If these fall they can be dangerous – tree branches are heavy! We can clear them out for you, and we will always give you honest information about whether a tree should be removed for safety reasons.
Storms and Trees
Wind, heavy rain, snow and even hail can cause significant damage to residential trees. Understanding the impacts of storms on trees will allow you to develop both preventative measures to decrease the probability of tree damage or property damage and management approaches to care for trees after damage has occurred.
Trees may be uprooted, decapitated or suffer massive crown loss as branches are broken by the force of the wind or by the weight of ice and snow. Loss of large portions of the crown results in tree stress, a reduction of growth and entry sites for insects and disease. Depending on the degree of damage, some trees will recover on their own, others need immediate care to repair the damage incurred and some are so irreversibly damaged that they will eventually die.
If you’re worried about a tree on your property that has suffered storm damage, give us a call and we will take a look!
The treatment of storm-damaged trees requires good assessment and prompt action. Factors to consider are whether the tree has damage that is relatively superficial, damage that can be treated or damage that is beyond repair. If more than 35 to 50 percent of the main branches or trunk are severely split or broken, extensive repairs are questionable.
Several types of damage occur to trees during storms.
The first and most severe damage occurs when the trunk or main stem of the injured tree splits or is broken. Mature trees that are larger are most susceptible to this type damage. Past tree injuries and pest problems often predispose the tree to storm damage by weakening the wood structure. Trees do not heal wounds. Trees can only grow over old wounds and seal them off. Wounds are structurally weaker than solid wood.
A second, damage category is blow-over of trees. Often trees that blow over have root failure from a disease (root rot), from shallow soils or those with shallow hard pans, from soil compaction during construction, or from saturated soil from excessive rainfall.
For small to medium-sized, blown-over trees with at least 50 percent of the root system still in the soil, it may be possible to brace them with guy wires or cables.
The final and least damaging category is that of broken branches where the break occurs away from the main stem. The higher the break and smaller the diameter of the break point, the higher the probability that the tree will recover. Broken branches generally do not affect tree survival unless more than 50 percent of the crown is involved. Generally, if a tree has lost more than 50 percent of its crown, the probability of future survival is poor. These branches need maintenance quickly so that they do not become a hazard and to decrease the risk of decay organisms entering the wounds.
For moderate trimming jobs close to ground level, homeowners should follow these guidelines:
- Smaller branches should be trimmed back to the point where they join larger ones.
- Make the cut at a slant next to a bud that can produce new growth.
- Do not leave branch stubs as they encourage rot and decay.
- Large branches that are broken should be cut back to either the trunk or main limb. Do not cut the branch flush with the trunk. Instead, cut outside the collar at the base of the branch.
When in Doubt, Call A Professional!
Broken limbs are often under tension and can kick back unexpectedly during cutting. Be alert for down and damaged power and utility lines and broken limbs that are hanging. If a tree is large and the necessary work is off the ground, call us! We have the equipment and knowledge to safely remove broken limbs and to correctly repair trees.
A damaged limb may strip healthy bark from the trees main stem or trunk. To repair this type of damage, cut any ragged edges of torn bark with a sharp chisel or knife. Take care not to remove any more healthy bark and expose more live tissue than necessary.
If possible, the wound left by the cut should be shaped like an elongated football with the pointed ends of the cut running vertically along the trunk or limb. There is no need to apply tree wound dressings to prevent decay-causing infection. Most research has shown that wound dressings (paint, tar and others) do not prevent decay, may interfere with rapid healing and in some cases can serve as food sources for harmful microorganisms.
Why Shouldn’t I Top My Trees?
Do not top trees!
Topping accelerates shoot growth and promotes branches that are weakly attached to stubs rather than anchored from within the limb. These branches are more likely to break in future storm events. The tree will also need all its resources to recover from the stress of storm damage. Removal of more branches and leaves reduces photosynthesis, the food-making process in plants, and depletes the trees stored reserves for maintenance and growth.
Topping trees also:
- Leaves wounds that the tree can’t readily close
- Ruins the structure of the tree
- Disrupts the tree’s energy storage for future growth, which slowly destroys the tree
- Stimulates new water sprouts that are weak and can easily break
Tree limbs are pruned for multiple reasons, all of which result in a better looking, safer and better performing tree. Although trees do grow quite naturally without pruning, pruning regularly allows your trees to reach their full potential and live a long, happy and healthy life.
Why Prune Trees?
Pruning for health focuses on removing dead, dying and diseased branches, branches that rub together and branch stubs, allowing the tree to grow in a healthy way. Opening up the canopy to let light and air filter throughout the entire tree allows for increased foliage while decreasing the risk of disease. At the ground level, suckers and water sprouts weaken wood and steal nutrients from the main tree. By helping a tree establish one main tree and a dominant leader, you create a strong tree that’s ultimately able to withstand winter storms and high winds.
Pruning Improves the Appearance of Your Property
Landscape maintenance and appearance pruning combine to create the ideal plant you envision. By pruning and trimming trees in specific ways, you can encourage fruiting and flowering, shape plants into specific forms and control plant size.
Pruning for Safety
Safety is one of the most important considerations when thinking about pruning your trees. Dead wood is much heavier than it appears, and serious injury can occur if a dead branch falls from a height. Pruning the dead branches on the trees in your yard creates a safer environment. Well-pruned trees are stronger and healthier. Dead branches, diseased trees and weak limbs are all a danger to people and property. When pruning trees, take a moment to assess if tree branches are becoming too close to safety lights, electrical lines or are blocking traffic views.
Depending on where you live, it is also important to prune trees to thin out branches and dead limbs before windy seasons. Too much foliage can result in trees being top heavy and falling over in storms, and falling branches may damage a house or plants below, or cause injury or worse.
Not Sure Whether Your Trees Are Ready For Pruning?
If you’re not sure the trees on your property can benefit from pruning, contact us at (253) 651-7494 for a free on-site estimate.
We’ll inspect all the trees on your property and determine which trees are ready for a pruning job, either for health, appearance, or safety reasons. We’ll look for loose or hanging branches, splits, cracks, uprooting, and any other potentially dangerous situations, and give you a specific estimate to complete the job safely and professionally.
Lower prices in the winter!
The price of tree pruning is lower in the winter! The summer is our busiest time, and we need to make sure to keep our highly qualified personnel working during the winter!
We work throughout the winter months, and prices are lower during non-peak times of the year.