How Often Should Trees Be Pruned?
Written by: Keith Glaznap, ISA Certified Arborist WI-0678A
The phrase, ‘early and often’, is one that we have all heard and it can be applied to many things. It turns out that it can and should be applied to pruning your trees.
As homeowners my wife and I knew when we purchased our home that regular maintenance would be necessary to help reduce the chance of larger issues developing over time. For example, we must periodically paint our wood trim to keep the wood from being exposed to moisture, thus reducing costly maintenance or replacement needs in the future.
Regarding trees, it is also important to perform regular maintenance on them. Pruning trees on a consistent cycle can help to avoid irreversible defects in structure or tree failure over time.
Given that tree structure and growth rates differ from one species to another, the type and frequency of pruning required will be different from tree to tree. As an example, autumn blaze maple is a popular fast-growing species. It perfectly fits the home maintenance analogy above. If it is pruned every couple of years, the risk of tree failure in the future can be dramatically reduced. On the other hand, if the tree is never pruned it could experience multiple branch failures throughout its life or even split completely in half at some point. Complete failures are becoming more common with unpruned autumn blaze maples as they mature in the landscape.
Age also has an impact on how often a given tree might need to be pruned. Young trees, even newly planted trees, may need to be pruned once every two or three years. The pruning would likely be light and focus more on correcting structural issues. Middle age trees might need pruning once every five years. Last, but not least, fully mature trees might only need pruning once every five to ten years with the primary focus being dead limbs.
If you are someone who has not had your trees pruned before, all is not lost. It’s true that you may not be able to eliminate every structural issue present in trees that have been growing in your yard for several years. That said, you can at least identify any issues and begin working to improve the structure from that point. Cables and braces may also be installed in certain situations to help further reduce the risk of tree failure by adding support to weak trunk unions or overextended limbs.
Our certified arborists are well equipped to understand the pruning needs of your trees regardless of their species or age. If you think that your trees might be due for pruning contact your Wachtel Tree Science arborist for an assessment today!