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Thought pruning was just for aesthetics? What if I told you some trees require pruning like your car requires an oil change?
Trees play an integral role in our cities and around our properties. They keep our streets and homes cool, filter our air, support wildlife, and not to mention the irreplaceable aesthetic value they lend to their surroundings. Urban trees also face unique challenges unfamiliar to their forest dwelling ancestors. This has lead to a set of needs the trees have not adapted to meet on their own. Just like bringing home a new puppy, when we adapted trees into our environments; the many benefits and pleasures came with responsibilities.
Read our article on when and why to prune trees here!
A properly pruned tree will be:
- More disease resistant
- Since many fungi and pathogens thrive in a dark, anaerobic environment; maintaining healthy air and light circulation in the canopy is critical.
- Produce better fruits/flowers
- Without the forest environment putting constructive restraints on a trees canopy, it tends to get over corroded and redundant. Since the tree has limited resources, this results in an abundance of subpar fruit and vegetation.
- Be aesthetically pleasing
- We’ve all seen the neglected trees that look more suitable for a spooky movie set than an urban landscape.
- Stability/ Safety
- An urban tree with no environmental constraints tends to grow unstable horizontal limbs. These heavy limbs are prone to breaking off and tearing a section of the tree with them. This damage is can often be fatal and irreversible. These issue is multiplied for fruiting trees since the heavy fruit loads ad considerable extra strain.
- Live Longer
- A happy healthy tree can grace your landscape for generations.
- Grow cohesively into its environment without interference with structures and walking areas.
- A skilled arborist is able to ensure a tree doesn’t damage itself or other property through progressive and strategic branch training.
- Selectively thin the canopy to allow light and air to circulate freely through.
- Nature uses decomposing organisms to recycle redundant, unproductive growth. Since a forest tree isn’t typically able to overcrowd, this mechanism turns against the tree in an urban environment, often spreading to healthy and vital parts of the tree.
- This process also allows for better overall growth and vigour.
- Remove any dead or problem growth
- In nature, trees “self prune” dead or unwanted branches. In an urban environment not only can this pose a significant hazard, but like most things in a forest, it is carried out on a time scale that is somewhat impractical by city standards..
- Dead branches also attract pests and invite decay into the healthy parts of the tree.
- Train the trees structure away from walking areas and other property.
- Much like training a puppy; proper and effective tree training is started early in the life of the tree. This allows the knowegable pruning professional, to work with the natural structure of the tree, and form it into a suitable shape while being minimally invasive.
- Shape for aesthetics
Things to remember when pruning:
- WHY- Urban trees can get unruly. Without the restraint provided by a forest environment, urban trees tend to grow unnaturally and unsustainably.
- WHEN- Heavy trims should be done in late fall and winter when the plant is dormant. Light trims and safety trims can be implemented year-round.
- ELMS- Edmonton law dictates elms can be pruned between April 1 – September 30. Full removals, including the stump, can be carried out year-round.
- HOW- typically, the goal when pruning is to eliminate unwanted growth. This includes; branches that cross or run, water sprouts/suckers, excessive lateral growth, deadwood, unstable limbs.
- ISA industry standards specify that no more than 1/4 of a trees canopy should be removed in one growth season, and leaving the “occasional 1/2″ dead or problem branch” where its impractical to remove, is permissible.