The Objective in Trimming Trees

Whether low branches block your sidewalk or higher ones threaten overhead wires, pruned tree limbs make your property safer and more attractive. However, the objective in trimming trees is often misunderstood.

Good pruning objectives include reducing the number of dead or damaged limbs, keeping a single dominant leader stem and opening up the crown for more sunlight. They may also include thinning and heading cuts.

Pruning is a form of maintenance.

Keeping trees and shrubs healthy helps them look their best. But the health of a plant isn’t just about aesthetics—it also plays an important role in maintaining a tree’s overall structural integrity.

Pruning is a form of maintenance that removes dead or diseased branches, thins the crown to allow light penetration and reduce wind resistance, clears obstructions such as lower limbs blocking pedestrians and cars from roadways and sidewalks, and minimizes the risk of damage to buildings or structures from overgrowth. In addition, pruning can be used to shape a tree, shrub, or hedge into a more desirable form and style.

Structural pruning is done to develop long-lived, low-risk, stable trees. It is particularly important when a plant is young and developing as it can correct growth defects before they become serious problems. These issues include inward-growing limbs, crossing limbs, narrow V-shaped crotches, or limbs that obstruct traffic, interfere with buildings or power lines.

When pruning to train a landscape tree, it should be done in a manner that is consistent with the plant’s natural form. It is difficult and unwise to try to impose an unnatural form on a tree, as this can cause the plant great stress. Instead, pruning should be focused on eliminating potential problems while maintaining the natural form of the plant.

For example, thinning a tree involves the removal of a portion of the limbs and branches to open up the foliage, lessen weight on hefty limbs, and keep the vigor of the remaining limbs. When thinning a tree, it is important to prune at the proper time of year. This is because the cambium layer—the living tissue just beneath the bark—is most active in spring and fall, and this is when wound closure and cellular activity are at their peak.

Another way to maintain a landscape tree is through “raising.” In raising, the limbs or branches are removed from the lower part of the crown. This allows headroom for vehicles, people and structures and opens up views of surrounding areas. This type of pruning is not recommended unless it’s specifically requested by the client as it can lead to future problems.

Pruning is a form of shaping.

Trees need to be pruned for aesthetics and functional reasons. This can include reducing risk, like weak branches or limbs that could fall and damage property, people or cars. We also prune to promote growth and vigor and to shape trees for their environment. This includes removing dead or diseased twigs and branches, and directing the flow of energy in the form of sunlight through a canopy to lawn areas and structures below.

The type of pruning used to achieve these goals can vary greatly from property to property and from species to species. For example, fruit and flower trees are pruned to promote production and quality. While a grove of ornamental trees may be pruned to elevate the visual impact. It is important to set specific objectives for pruning, especially with young trees. This is because every cut has the potential to change the way a tree grows. Corrective pruning on young trees will help to reduce the need for future, more extensive pruning as they grow.

Generally speaking, structural pruning involves reducing the density of the foliage around the crown periphery. This can be done by thinning or by removing selected twigs and branches to open the crown for light penetration and air circulation. Thinning is a more common form of pruning on mature trees and is most often performed in order to reduce wind resistance, sunscaling or to increase interior light penetration.

Other forms of pruning include hazard reduction pruning to remove hazards, such as tripping or falling limbs and to prevent interlacement with utility lines. This is especially critical for retaining large or mature trees in urban settings, as well as to protect pedestrians and the general public.

Hazard reduction pruning is most commonly performed in the winter, as it is easier to see what is being done. Winter is also the time of year when cambial activity is at its peak. The cambium is the thin layer of living tissue just below the bark that closes wounds and promotes trunk growth. When the cambium is active, it is best able to compartmentalize and heal the cuts made by pruning.

Pruning is a form of removal.

Pruning involves the removal of branches and limbs that are not in good condition. It also influences the way trees grow and maintain their shape. This can reduce the risks of severe injuries and property damage caused by overhanging tree parts. It can also help prevent damage to electrical utility lines by removing limbs that are pushing into them.

The goal of pruning is to keep the crown healthy and free of disease, insect infestations and fungi. This is achieved by removing diseased, broken, dead or problem limbs from the tree. It also removes unwanted growth by reducing the number of branches growing in the wrong direction. It can also be done to manage light and air movement in a landscape and to create better visual impact for the surrounding areas.

A common mistake is to over-prune a landscape tree, such as making a round-topped or ascending tree into a shrubby form. This can weaken the form of the tree and increase its decline rate. Other errors include topping or lion-tailing, which force the tree to use its limited food reserve and can result in stress, damage and death.

The first step in pruning is removing dead, diseased or broken limbs by cutting them near their point of origin or back to strong lateral branches. Skilled tree professionals can use shears to make these cuts quickly and efficiently. They may also use a saw when the diameter of a limb is too large for shears.

After removing these problematic limbs, the next step is to shape a tree. This can be done with hand shears or lopping shears. This process usually takes place in winter when the trees are dormant, allowing the pruner to see clearly where live wood ends and dead wood begins. The pruning cut should be made in a way that does not interfere with the natural form of the branch and stem, and should follow a specific order of cutting to avoid damage to the tree.

In some cases, Tree Trimming New Braunfels will remove some of the old foliage to encourage new shoots and promote regrowth after an injury. This is called regenerative pruning and it can be done to encourage flowering or fruit production in trees. It is often done on orchard trees to improve productivity and manage pests.

Pruning is a form of disease control.

The main purpose of pruning is improving health and structure. It eliminates diseased or dying branches, reduces risks from limb failure and opens the canopy to allow more light and air to reach the ground. When done correctly, pruning also improves the aesthetic of trees and shrubs by removing dead or unruly growth. This can create more open and attractive landscapes while reducing the risk of damage to property or injury to people.

In the built environment, pruning can also help maintain utility lines and clearance for buildings and cars. This is usually achieved through thinning and raising cuts. Topping and lion-tailing a tree is a bad objective as it shifts the weight from lower to higher limbs, stresses the entire system, wastes food reserves, increases the chance of wind damage and introduces decay.

Pruning can also be used to control or limit the spread of a disease, fungus or insect infestation. This is accomplished by removing diseased or infested limbs, preventing sucker sprouts from growing and thinning out the crown to stop the spread of an infection.

A final use of pruning is to promote new growth, usually in the form of a suckers or secondary trunks. This is often the result of a damaged or breaking branch or the removal of a large limb or trunk. This type of pruning can increase the rate of a tree’s growth and improve its structural integrity.

No matter what objectives are being achieved, pruning always involves mechanical injury to the plant. This triggers the immediate and delayed responses from plants to this wounding. The immediate response is a mind-numbing cascade of signals that activate genes associated with production of defense compounds that are designed to reduce the ability of pathogens to take hold in the wound. The delayed response involves a much slower process where cell walls are formed around the wounded area. Until these protective cells are formed, the tree is vulnerable to pathogens and decay that enter through the open wound. Proper pruning techniques will minimize these injuries by limiting the amount of live wood that is removed from a tree at one time, using reduction and shaping cuts rather than removal cuts whenever possible and minimizing the number of large stubs left behind.

Whether low branches block your sidewalk or higher ones threaten overhead wires, pruned tree limbs make your property safer and more attractive. However, the objective in trimming trees is often misunderstood. Good pruning objectives include reducing the number of dead or damaged limbs, keeping a single dominant leader stem and opening up the crown for…