I have read quite a few articles arguing both for and against tree pruning. Some think it’s unnatural to prune a tree and they should be left alone, others disagree.
I totally agree a tree should be left alone as long as it is in a natural setting and have very little human presence. When we talk about trees in suburbia, with pedestrians walking under them and children playing around them in schools, a lot of care needs to be taken to make sure they are not a potential hazard.
Let’s look a few reasons why tree pruning actually is a good idea for not only the trees health, but for the public safety and over all aesthetic appeal.
Importance of pruning
Note: Before attempting tree pruning yourself, I suggest you consider using a local tree pruning service who have arborists training in the correct way to remove branches. Tree pruning can be hazardous to both the novice attempting the job and also the tree.
Contrary to the belief of some, pruning trees really has a lot of health benefits. When you remove 10 – 20% of a trees foliage, you are actually removing a burden and stimulating new growth.
Trees react and don’t plan in advance, so they grow to their maximum size and potential with the resources they currently have at their disposal. If those resource change suddenly, such as an extended period of hot weather and little rain, they do not cope well. Planning ahead for the tree is of great long term benefits.
From time to time especially with larger trees, deadwood forms when a small branch die and dry up. This deadwood I can be a safety hazard for pedestrians. If it is not trimmed and is left unchecked for extended periods, it can also be detrimental to the tree itself as bugs and water can enter the tree through the deadwood.
Think of a trees bark is its natural protection from the elements. A healthy tree produces a good amount of sap which quickly drowns any invasive pest trying to borrow in. Dead branches are like an open door into the heart of a tree when white ants and other pests can live and breed.
When you remove deadwood it allows the tree to begin healing over that open wound.
Tree form and aesthetic appeal
For aesthetic appeal tree pruning is a great way to jazz up your home and garden. It also has other benefits depending on the style of pruning you implement. By thinning the tree branches or reducing the number of branches, you allow more light into your home.
Another tree pruning method is call a “canopy lift” which is the removal of the lower branches of a tree which raises the canopy and may allow more light onto a lawn promoting growth.
Stimulate root growth
When you prune a trees branches, what you are a essentially doing is freeing up resources that the tree would have normally set aside for those branches you have just removed. Not only do you stimulate growth of more branches, but at the same time you stimulate root growth.
This is like an investment plan for a tree because in the long term the more roots you have a more stable tree is and it is now more capable of greater water and nutrient uptake which has a knock on effect of a healthy, larger and more vibrant tree in the future.
A tree will only ever produce fruit and or good quantities of fruit when it has extra resources to do so. If it has been a poor year with little rainfall and harsh conditions, the tree will react by either not producing fruit or producing a very small amounts of fruit.
When you prune a fruit tree, again you are freeing up resources that allows a tree to send more nutrients towards the production of fruit, resulting in a larger fruit harvest at the end of the season.
When is a good time to prune trees
Tree pruning is best done in the colder months preferably towards the end of winter. During the winter months most trees go into a dormant state. Some will grow a little depending on the region, but at the very least they will slow down growth.
When you prune a tree, although in the long term it is a good thing, in the short term it can be a shock to the trees system. A lot of trees can handle this year round, others cannot. It will also depend on how well established a tree is.
Removing a lots of branches opens up large wounds that need to begin healing over. This takes time and in general more than one season. If you prune a tree towards the end of summer or autumn, the extra dormant period will allow time for water, bugs and rot to set in to the woody center of the tree.
This can spell bad news for the trees health, so to give the tree the best chance of survival you want to have a full season of growth to start closing that wound as soon as possible. This is why we advise pruning in winter, so in spring they are already healing.
Hire a pro or DIY
Tree pruning is always best left to the professionals, but if you have a smaller tree job and budget is an issue, I would suggest you at least contact a local lawn mowing and garden maintenance company to do the job.
Tree services use very heavy equipment and have very large overheads. These services are best suited for trees that are 5m or higher.
They do cost a little more, if you use a certified arborist you can be sure they are well trained and experienced to carry out any size tree pruning job with ease.
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