How Arborists Make Pruning Decisions

Understanding Pruning Decisions from an Arborist Perspective

As a whole the practice of pruning is often misunderstood by homeowners. The act of trimming a tree is typically done for the purposes of making the tree more visually appealing and enhancing the appearance. With pruning everything an arborist does is at the benefit of the tree to ensure they can have healthy, strong, sustained growth. A great benefit of pruning is that it does enhance the look of your tree, and it encourages new growth and new buds which keeps it looking fresh.

A professional arborist has knowledge of the tree they’re working on, what maintenance it requires, and what pruning techniques can best be utilized to maximize the health of the tree. Joseph Tree arborists take into account many factors like the angle of each cut so the healing process will be faster. We will look at the specific growth of each branch to ensure we’re not damaging the future potential of incoming buds. We examine the direction of growth when pruning as a way to determine which directions we want to encourage branches to grow. When pruning with direction in mind we can help the tree avoid branch density issues in the future and give the canopy balanced, sustainable growth.

Professional Pruning Techniques

Proper pruning requires an understanding of pruning techniques in order to ensure you’re not damaging the tree. This is not limited to the position or angle of the cut, but also how the cut is made. In order to ensure the bark does not get damaged and leave the tree exposed an arborist will make multiple precise cuts. During the pruning process each branch is cut and specifically chosen for a variety of reasons. Thinning cuts are used to promote and stimulate growth of other branches. Heading cuts are used to simulate buds on the branch and can be helpful when trying to promote more defense growth in a specific area within the tree’s canopy. Rejuvenation pruning is one of the more aggressive pruning techniques often used on older trees and plants that promotes new growth in previously overgrown, misshapen trees. This pruning technique is reserved for specific circumstances and isn’t always necessary in cases where a tree has been properly maintained over many years.

Avoid Damaging Trees

Some arborists practice a technique called topping, however at Joseph Tree we avoid tree topping as often as possible. This technique is known to cause permanent damage to tree limbs and branches. Tree topping can have a major impact on the overall health of a tree causing damage to the root system and the tree’s trunk. Tree topping is a technique used to cut and remove branches from the crown of the tree, or the canopy. Mostly this is done when a tree becomes too large for the space it was planted in and has begun growing too close to electrical wires, buildings, or other nearby infrastructure. Tree topping can often be avoided by properly planning where you want to plant the tree. The decision to plant a tree in small gardens near a home, underneath electrical lines, or near other structures can cause issues as the tree grows. Proper pruning over the lifespan of the tree will help groom the tree to both grow to be strong and healthy, and help it to maintain its shape.

When caring for young trees a professional arborist will know what pruning techniques are appropriate. When trees are younger they are still considered a sapling and their sustained growth is crucial for a long healthy lifespan. We want to ensure that we are not stunting the growth of a sapling by unnecessarily pruning away healthy branches that can help them absorb the energy they need. Pruning away excess branches removes buds the tree needs in order to grow leaves. Pruning of younger trees should almost exclusively consist of removing broken or damaged branches which will only hinder the tree’s growth and potentially allow insects, disease, or other harm to come to the tree.

Determining if Trees Require Pruning

While different trees may require different levels of tree care, understanding when pruning is necessary and what branches need to be pruned back is very important to the overall health of trees large and small. Working with a team of professional arborists ensures that your trees will receive a proper pruning with professional pruning techniques.

One of the most obvious signs that trees need pruning is seeing dead branches attached or hanging from limbs. These dead branches can cause a few issues including crowding the growth of the tree, inviting insects, or providing a space for fungus growth. Broken branches leave the tree exposed to outside elements, but pruning will give trees an opportunity to heal over the break and create a barrier to protect themselves. Dead or decaying branches impact tree health and have a long term impact on the growth of both old and young trees. Broken or dead branches can be a sign of poor tree health and can be an indicator that the tree is ill and needs to be treated or nursed back to health. If trees have a fungus or other issues that are causing a nutrient deficiency, lack of water, or other problems this usually will cause branches to die and/or decay.

Dead or broken branches can also be dangerous for residents or anyone nearby. These branches can come loose from wind, or as decay weakens them and they can fall at random; this is often overlooked until the branches finally fall. Dead or broken branches can cause damage to homes, vehicles, people, or other property when they are not pruned away.

Severe weather can cause limbs and branches to become damaged from heavy snowfall, ice, and wind. In Central Ohio high winds and tornadoes can also cause  damage to trees. At Joseph Tree our professional arborists understand the growth patterns and and overall health of the trees we work and with precise pruning can help trees to recover from broken branches and promote new, healthy growth.

When you prune a tree you’re not just removing dead or damaged branches. Branches that are overgrown or even diseased can make continued healthy growth difficult. In many cases when trees go without proper maintenance and pruning their branches can become overgrown creating higher density. Pruning trees gives them more space to promote healthy growth. When one decreases branch density to a lower amount the lower limbs and branches are able to get a more appropriate level of exposure to the sun. When trees consistently get proper sunlight they can grow more consistently and healthier, as long as they are also receiving proper nutrients from the soil, and have good access to water.

The Benefits of Pruning Trees

Pruning a tree is extremely beneficial for the overall health and growth. Often our main focus for pruning is to stimulate growth, however there are additional benefits. Every tree will during its lifespan encounter broken limbs, whether from storms, winds, or random accidents, and they are also likely to encounter some sort of fungi or disease. Removing these damaged or diseased sections of the tree give the plant a better chance at healing properly, sealing back up, and protecting itself from outside risks.

Pruning also helps control the tree through guiding its size and the density of the branches themselves. While pruning can be used to control the growth size of a tree it is not recommended as a solution to inhibit the growth of a tree that is too large for the area someone planted it in.

When dealing with neglected or overgrown trees pruning can give the tree a new life by removing many of the overgrown, leggy branches and giving the tree a chance for new, healthier growth. By removing a significant portion of overgrown branches we are allowing the tree to form a new healthy canopy that is balanced and taken care of.

Pruning also has safety benefits. Weak or damaged branches and limbs can fall at any point. Depending on where the tree is growing this can be extremely dangerous to people, cause extreme property damage, and can be a large nuisance that homeowners will have to then deal with. By pruning away these hazardous branches we drastically reduce the chance that a person, vehicle, or structure could be damaged.

Pruning can also encourage buds and flowering, and in some cases the production of fruit. The work of an arborist will help to open the canopy of the tree so that more sections of the tree are able to receive proper sunlight, and in turn this can cause more flowering and fruiting.

Professional Arborist Team

Ensuring that the trees on your property are properly maintained and are receiving intentional pruning will keep your trees healthy. We encourage homeowners to work with professional arborists who truly understand the needs of their trees and how to prune them effectively and intentionally. A professional arborist understands how to make decisions during pruning that not only give the tree a more balanced look, but encourage it to continue growing stronger over its lifespan. Regular maintenance on a tree allows the tree to flourish and avoids big mishaps like large damaged branches falling, or trees dying from disease, pest invasions, or fungi. Many species of trees can live a very long time and can be a great benefit to homeowners if the trees are regularly maintained. An extensive understanding of the principles of tree trimming gives our team of professional arborists the chance to truly provide a more healthy and sustainable growth path for your trees. If you have any questions regarding tree pruning, tree trimming, tree removal, or any of our maintenance services please reach out to Joseph Tree today.