There are several factors that go into our pruning decisions. These include health of the tree and/or plant, house and/or structure damage prevention, the health of underlying plants and/or turf, and homeowner preference.
Listed below are several different pruning techniques that we most often use:
When we reduce the size of a tree, we trim a series of larger limbs back to a lateral limb where we want the new height to be. We cut the larger limbs off and leave the lateral limbs as the new end of the branches. The tree is left with leaves or buds at the end of the branches. This is not the unhealthy practice of topping which leaves stubs at the ends of branches and leaves the tree resembling a coat rack.
We usually use this pruning technique when a tree has a lean or the weight is unbalanced toward an area that needs to be protected (house, shed, pool, play area, road, etc.). In the crown of the tree we look for ways to reduce weight from the area to be protected. This usually happens by cutting larger limbs back to lateral limbs and/or the removal of targeted limbs. The goal is to leave a safer tree with a healthy attractive crown.
Certain trees tend to grown very thick in the interior of the crown such as Bradford pear and white pine trees. These same trees are often prone to toppling over or breaking in high winds. In the crown of the tree we thin (not gut) the interior. The goal is to leave a tree with a crown that allows the wind to pass through easier.
This pruning technique often goes hand in hand with a crown thinning. In the crown of the tree we target dead wood (limbs 3″- 4″ in diameter or greater), hazardous limbs (broken limbs, decaying limbs, limbs with cracks or hollow spots) and unhealthy limbs (limbs that are crossing/rubbing each other and/or limbs growing toward the interior of the tree).
This technique involves removing the lower limbs of the crown up to an agreed upon height. It is used most often in the following two cases:
- Making a yard more lawn mower friendly – we elevate the bottom of the crown to at least head height. This allows the grass under the crown to be mowed more easily.
- Growing grass – we elevate the crowns of certain trees with the goal of allowing more sunlight to penetrate to the turf. This will allow better grass growth and a healthier turf.
We apply this technique to trees that have been damaged or topped. It is mainly geared for future growth. We give the tree a restart as opposed to a removal. Trees that were topped will get a vast amount of sucker growth at the stubs that were left as the branch ends. We climb to each stub and leave a couple of the most promising branches growing from the stub and remove the rest. The tree is left in a more natural state of fewer but stronger branches. We remove the broken/hazardous limbs first and may then have to alter the crown for balance, appearance and/or growth direction.