Obedience Training for Trees
Written by: Jake Kubisiak, Certified Arborist IL-1392A
I love to use analogies when explaining my tree care recommendations. I will often see client’s give an “OK I get it” expression when they understand the analogy, and how it pertains to their tree. This article is one of those analogies.
Trees can be considered almost like pets. Through the years I have owned a few dogs. At one point (2) of our dogs (Hudson and Bailey) became recognized as “Canine Good Citizens”. This involved a series of weekly classes put on by a great dog trainer. Through continual corrections and “homework” we were able to teach our pet the right response to our requests. In the beginning we used delicious treats to encourage our dog. Then after learning the skills involved my dog and I took a final exam that tested the competency of these obedience skills, NO treats allowed. The test was a bit pressure-packed as each dog was asked to prove their skills in front of the instructor and the rest of class. In the end it was great to see our dog and many of the other dogs in the classes pass the test and to be known as Canine Good Citizens.
An untrained or improperly trained dog could become a wild animal just like an untrained tree. We benefit from good training of our shade trees just like we enjoy the benefits of a well-trained dog. Generally speaking this training is easier to accomplish when a tree is still young. Good pruning of younger more vigorously growing trees helps us avoid issues that commonly develop in more mature or unpruned trees. This training work might include:
- Determine a central branch leader and reduce or remove competitive limbs.
- Remove or reduce crowded or crossing limbs to improve future spacing.
- Reduction or removal of limbs attached with included bark or “V” shaped connections.
Each tree is different and certain species tend to conform to a central leader far more easily than others. Aspen, Linden, Pin Oak and Spruce or Pines are known to have an Excurrent growth habit or usually a single main trunk or leader. Whereas Maple, Honey Locust, Ash and Elm tend to have Decurrent growth or a more rounded spreading growth. As an arborist it is important to understand this general growth habit to decide how to prune a particular tree. Although all trees benefit from training some will conform to a true central leader more easily than others.
Trees are often blamed for the damage that is created following big wind storm events when branches fail. Often these limbs that failed could have been pruned or removed to avoid this damage. Usually this removal work is best done well before the “problem” limb becomes a major part of the canopy as that presents another set of issues. Dogs are also blamed for causing damage if they were to bite someone. Both of these issues are greatly curtailed by good training. A high quality trainer/arborist can identify the issues and provide recommendations for the drills or maintenance that may be needed. Let the experienced and trained arborists at Wachtel Tree Science help you with the training of your high value pets, I mean trees, so they can become Arboriculture Good Citizens.