What Can Happen To Your Trees If They Are Not Properly Pruned?

By: Jeffrey P. Hagfors, Certified Arborist

Winter 2003 Newsletter in Adobe PDF format The benefits of tree pruning can be better understood when a single question is asked: What can happen to my trees if they are not properly pruned? The response to this question is not one single answer—it is a number of equally important answers. Let’s review the dangers your trees face if they are not properly pruned.

  • Rogue and renegade branches are allowed to rub on roofs and damage facia and soffit. The typical response to this problem is an indiscriminate lopping off of the branch, which in turn can create additional problems for your tree.
  • Crossing and rubbing branches are allowed to persist in the tree’s canopy. Every time the wind blows, this opens a fresh wound that can be an attraction to damaging insects or an incubation site for infectious diseases.
  • Co-dominant leaders are allowed to compete for dominance. This prolonged competition may develop into a weak spot in the tree. The end result is a need for reinforcement (cabling or bracing) , to reduce the likelihood of failure.
  • Continued tree decline goes unnoticed in unpruned trees. Successful management of declining trees employs the use of deadwood pruning. This helps us in monitoring the tree’s improvement or recognizing advances in the tree’s decline.
  • Stored energy reserves can be depleted and decay organisms are continually introduced as the tree tries to grow around broken stubs and dead branches.
  • Storm damage is far more likely to occur in unkempt trees. This is because the wind sail effect is greater on trees that are not properly pruned.
  • Tree crowns are allowed to conflict with other trees if they are not properly pruned. The usual result is misshapen trees, greater disease potential, and a shortened life of one or more of the trees.
  • Infectious diseases are left in place when trees do not receive proper pruning. Branches containing diseases like nectria canker, black knot canker, sphaeropsis tip blight, fireblight and cytospora canker will spread to other parts of the tree when they are not properly pruned out.
  • Lawns will struggle and thin out when trees are not properly pruned to allow light penetration. The typical misguided response to this problem is an inappropriate wholesale elimination of the lower branches on the tree in an attempt to grow a lusher lawn.
  • Above all, a valuable landscape asset can turn into an expensive liability when it is not properly pruned.

All services are not equal. Your Wachtel Certified Arborists are trained to carefully and thoughtfully work their way throughout the entire tree. They are, in part, your eyes in the sky. As well as pruning, they are looking for the warning signs of other tree problems that would go unnoticed and unmentioned by untrained discount tree cutters.

© Copyright 2003 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.

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