Q and A

As Certified Arborists we get a lot of questions regarding pruning. Here are some of the most asked questions and the best pruning principle for your trees.

Q: Do my trees need to be trimmed or pruned?

A: The short answer is no, trees in general do not need trimming or pruning, but pruning may be required to achieve certain goals, such as structure clearance, deadwood removal, or other risk mitigation.

Q: When the wind blows, my tree moves a lot. Is this normal? Should I have the tree topped or cut back to remove the movement?

A: No. Unless we are dealing with a topiary, topping is never the answer. Topping is a barbaric practice that has no place in modern arboriculture. In some very specific circumstances, a crown reduction may be recommended, but this is not common. Proper crown reductions require work of highly trained certified arborists and are often one part of a multi-phase prescription for tree preservation.

Q: What is a topiary?

A: A topiary is a tree or woody shrub grown specifically to be pruned or sheared into a specific shape. Common topiary species include Boxwood, Privet, Arborvitae, Myrtle (both wax and crepe) and Yew.

Q: When is the best time to prune my tree?

A: The answer to this question is very delicate. In almost all cases the best time to prune is both specie and percentage dependent. Rather than try to explain every factor, it is simply recommended that you have a certified arborist evaluate your tree for the best results.

Q: Can you cut my trees back?

A: Your tree can be pruned to achieve certain goals. Certified arborists follow a detailed set of standards to best achieve the goals presented while fiercely protecting the health and longevity of the tree.

Q: My tree dropped a limb, or a few limbs, is it dead?

A: Possibly. Healthy vibrant trees frequently self-prune and shed limbs that are not providing adequate nutrient returns for their energy investment. This process is a sign of a sound healthy tree. However, trees that are dead or dying also shed limbs, so it can be difficult for the untrained eye to determine if the tree is healthy or dead. That is why it is best to consult with an arborist to determine the status of your tree.

As most of the answers would suggest, a consultation with a certified arborist will take the guesswork out of your pruning puzzle. Do not hesitate to reach out and schedule a consultation with a Certified Arborist, as wait times can often extend many weeks out during peak spring, summer and fall seasons.

Use Winter Wisely and Get Prepared for Spring and Summer

Every season comes with its own to do list for homeowners. We know in the spring to work on the lawn and plant flowers. In the summer, we inspect HVAC, clean gutters and do other general maintenance. In the autumn we have more lawn maintenance and we do our best to keep up with the onslaught of leaves that fall daily. While the winter seems like the ideal time to hibernate, it is actually an ideal time for tree maintenance. Many tree companies work all year round, which is often a misconception for homeowners.

One of the biggest advantages of a winter arborist consultation is the opportunity for structural pruning. Structural pruning removes or reduces the length of the stems that compete with the primary leader. The reason it is advantageous to do this pruning in the winter is because the arborist is able to see the natural form of the skeleton of the canopy without the normal draping effect that is caused by the weight of foliage. This is a great time to create structure clearance, inspect for weakly attached limbs and branches, poor trunk unions and general canopy elevation work. It is important to note that when hiring a team to trim or prune your trees, make certain that they will not be using spikes to access your trees canopy. If your tree is not being removed, climbing spikes will cause undue stress to your tree and can spread disease from one tree to the next.

While winters snow and ice threat could be enough to damage even very healthy trees, the true value of a winter arborist consultation lies in the preparedness for spring and summers strong storms. The waiting list for service with your favorite tree company can be very lengthy in the warmer months. Schedule a consultation and address any concerns promptly, and you will be well ahead of the crowd.

By Timothy Nunnally Jr.