Summer 2013-Pruning as Treatment (Why Tree Doctors Should Perform the Surgery)

Summer 2013-Pruning as Treatment

(Why Tree Doctors Should Perform the Surgery)

By: Anthony Arnoldi, Board-Certified Master Arborist WI-0102B

Wachtel Tree Science has a well-deserved reputation for saving trees and solving complex tree problems. Not every tree can or even should be saved, given its condition, age, prognosis, remaining expected lifespan, risk of failure, or ability to fulfill its purpose in the landscape. However, when it is reasonable to pursue a course of action, utilizing the various treatment regimes at our disposal, Wachtel has a proven track record that is well known.

Prospects and customers usually readily agree with this assessment of Wachtel, as we are known to have the most Certified Arborists in the State, most having degrees in Arboriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Natural Resources or related fields. They put their trust in us to perform a wide variety of treatments to regain or sustain their trees’ health.

I am surprised, however, how often pruning is delegated to “less competent” arborists. The reasoning given is that our expertise and “brain power” are not needed for mundane pruning needs. This position needs to be examined!

Pruning is important and involves the removal of carefully selected parts of the tree: limbs, branches, shoots, trunks. No selections are arbitrary. When removing living parts, there must be recognition of numerous disease development manifestations, or insect life cycles as they relate to signs, symptoms or damage visible for detection. There must be careful consideration of branch biology: growth, form, and its relation to other branches now and in the future to determine whether or not it is removed, retained or altered. All of these considerations will vary also with the species or cultivar and age of the tree involved. (What is best for one tree may be completely wrong for another.)

With all of these instances as well as with dead tree parts, the manner in which it is removed is extremely important. This is surgery, after all. Cutting must preserve the living structures that deal with compartmentalization (“healing”) within the tree. If these are compromised, the tree will be injured and spend years and a lot of wasted energy trying to overcome the damage. Even dead parts interface with living tissue and must be carefully excised so that infection and decay does not start. All of our expertise, knowledge and technical skills are brought to bear -- after all, surgery is potentially a bigger help or hindrance than many treatment applications. Furthermore, the results from these "operations” stay with the tree for the rest of its life!

We all have heard horror stories of how incompetent human medical practitioners have removed the wrong organ, limb or left tools or sponges within the body cavity! Don’t let this happen to your tree! If you spend good money for tree maintenance, and it is time for the tree’s pruning treatment, don’t waste money paying some tree cutter to harm it. That is far more costly and it would be better to delay pruning until it can be done right.

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