Improperly pruning a tree can have disastrous effects on the health, aesthetics, and longevity of a tree. As an ISA Certified Arborist there really is no sadder site than to see the outcome of a tree that has been improperly pruned: unsightly branch stubs, bark tearing, topping, and more.
As we continue to provide service to our customers in Olympia, Washington we’ve had the opportunity to answer their questions and to provide general tree care education. A common question we’ve been asked concerns proper pruning technique.
My first and foremost recommendation is to seek the expertise of an ISA Certified Arborist such as Westcoast Tree Care. Often times, well-meaning homeowners undertake the pruning of their trees without having the knowledge, expertise, and equipment to do it properly. Sadly the outcomes are often less than optimal.
Today we put together a general list of pruning do’s and don’ts for our customers in Olympia, Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest.
- Only prune as is necessary.
- Remove dead, diseased, and broken branches.
- Pruning of larger and more mature trees should be avoided if possible.
- No more than 25% of the live crown should be removed in any given year.
- If possible, prune from the edge of the branch collar.
- If possible, use a three point cut. The first cut is made to prevent tearing. The second cut is made to remove the branch. The third cut is made outside the branch collar for stub removal.
- Never top a tree. Topping a tree removes a significant portion of the tree crown and harms the tree in significant ways. A topped tree has an increased susceptibility to insect infestation and disease, an increased likelihood of weak limbs and limb failure, and is aesthetically unsightly. A topped tree, if it does not die, will never return to its natural form.
- Never “lion-tail” a tree. Lion-tailing results when an inordinate amount of branches have only been removed from the interior canopy of a tree. The outcome: branches over-elongate and suffer from excess weight.
- Avoid over-lifting. Over-lifting results when removing an inordinate amount of the lower branches. This affects the trees ability to absorb nutrients, creates an unsightly tree form, and leaves the tree susceptible to failure.
- Never leave a stub. The stub opens the tree to disease, decay, and insect infestation. It also leaves the tree displeasing to the eye.
- Cuts should be clean. Never make jagged or “hacked” cuts. This damages the trees ability to properly heal the wound and can open the tree to increased risk of decay, disease, and infestation.
The Take Away
A common question we’ve been asked by our Olympia, Washington customers concerns proper pruning technique. Our list of pruning do’s and don’ts covers common pruning matters: only pruning as necessary, avoiding tree topping, proper pruning cuts, and more.
Due to the potential negative outcomes of improper pruning, Westcoast Tree care recommends seeking the expertise of an ISA Certified Arborist for all of your tree pruning needs. You can contact Westcoast Tree Care today to learn more about our pruning services and tree care expertise.