There are a lot of people out there trying to make a buck trimming trees, unfortunately the minority are those with the knowledge of how to do it right and follow through with it. When you look at a tree what do you see? What are you expecting to see after pruning? Here a just a couple examples of what you don’t want to let happen to your trees and what you might expect from a good pruning in the crown.

Live oaks overprunedThis is a picture I took just today. These Live Oaks (Quercus Virginiana) has been excessively over pruned, and this happens all too much. You can see how the top portion of the crown is all that is left, and the rest has been removed or “stripped” out, removing important foliage in the mid crown. The response can be unsightly and correction is needed. If these trees continue to be pruned like this the limbs will eventually become very long and heavy as they mature, resulting in bad structure and limb failure.

A-Ash before pruningHere’s a fuzzy picture of an Arizona Ash (Fraxinus Velutina) before it is pruned. This was taken October 2015 and the crown is pretty thick in a few spots. There is a lot of deadwood in there due to being shaded out by the crowding and some conflicting limbs. The larger lower limbs have also grown to be very long, horizontal and heavy.

A-Ash after selective thinningAfter removing the major conflicting limbs, selectively thinning the crowded areas and cleaning up the deadwood the tree appears to have some room for sunlight and air but still plenty enough foliage throughout to support the size of the tree. We also did a little extra separation above the lower horizontals and took some weight off of the ends to slow down their growth to relieve the potential hazard it may have in future.

Different species of trees have different growth patterns and habits but it’s important to give them their best opportunity to grow with good structure and to avoid problems in the future. There are a lot of things to look for when it comes to “good structure” such as one dominant trunk continuing through the middle to the top point of the tree, this is the central leader, and all other limbs to be less than 1/3 diameter and have a good attachment point. The limbs scaffolding up with plenty of space between them. These are just a few important factors when pruning for good structure and not all trees can be perfect so experience is really what makes this work.

LB elm b4 pruningThis Lacebark elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) has a lot of crowding but a good central leader. We will remove the lower limbs and select our permanent scaffolding limbs, which will then be the tree’s primary limbs.

LB elm afterThe difference is quite drastic, and looks more like a tree now. But this won’t be the last time this young tree needs to be pruned. A few more sessions every 2-3 years to guide the new growth up and not down will help.

It’s important to ask questions when hiring a tree service. Any good arborist will be able to explain what’s going on in detail to help you understand. Thanks for reading!

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