Pruning is conducted to improve the health, beauty, long term stability, and safety of your trees and shrubs. Regular pruning also promotes the aesthetic value of your plants by encouraging flowering, increasing density of foliage, and maintaining the desired shape and size. Finally, managed pruning helps to prevent injuries and property damage by improving branch structure and removing weak limbs before they can fall to the ground.
Because pruning requires a thorough understanding of plant biology, it is very important to work with one of our ISA Certified Arborists. Improper pruning is harmful and can cause damage that will remain with a tree or shrub for the remainder of its life. To ensure the best possible results, our arborists follow industry-leading ANSI A300 Standards for proper tree pruning.
Why prune your tree?
- To improve the overall structure
- To increase safety by removing hazardous limbs
- To provide clearance from buildings, wires or other structures
- To remove lower limbs (crown raising)
- To remove dead or dying limbs
- To remove diseased limbs
- To improve a view (vista pruning)
- To increase flowering or fruit production.
- In an urban setting pruning may be required for building, utility, road or sidewalk clearance.
Vista pruning increases your landscape’s value and enhances beauty by creating visual access to lakes, rivers and valleys. Vista pruning makes the most of surrounding views, while maintaining privacy where desired.
Shrub pruning is often the most abused and least understood of any landscape maintenance practice. Proper pruning maintains the plant’s natural growth habit within the confines of a landscape. Working with a shrub’s natural form will lead to lower-maintenance and healthier landscapes. Improper pruning is a harmful, expensive practice that will reduce flowering and the life of your shrub.
Common Asked Questions
The old arborist saying goes, “the best time to prune is when the saw is sharp,” meaning that trees can be pruned at any time. This is still true for most trees, although there are some points to consider and some limited exceptions to the rule. However, regardless of the season, an arborist can perform the required care.
Pruning trees, especially when younger, helps promote healthy trees with good branch architecture. Think of a tree in its native environment, the forest. Because of the stiff competition with other trees, is forced to grow upright toward light to fill what is usually a very limited space. Trees growing in landscape environments usually have much more space and less competition. They will develop large, low branches and spread out to form much broader trees than they would in their natural settings. This difference in branch structure should be addressed with pruning to minimize development of hazardous limbs that are likely to fail.
It is generally recommended that limited pruning be done at the time of planting. When a young tree is planted, dead, broken, and split branches should be removed. Once the tree has begun to establish a central trunk or multiple well-spaced trunks (called “leaders”), competing stems and branches should be removed to encourage healthy leader development. Branches should be retained on the lower trunk to increase taper.
It is important to prune young trees in order to develop a strong scaffold branch structure. Pruning young trees can avoid more expensive problems that could occur if the tree is allowed to grow with branch defects.
The short answer is no. Most interior branches should be retained on a typical tree to preserve biological functions. The “gutting-out” of a tree by removing a large number of the inner branches is called lion’s tailing because the limbs of the tree look like a lion’s tail after pruning (long and slender with a puff of foliage at the end).
In the past, part of the standard recommendation was to apply a generous coating of a tree wound dressing to all fresh cuts. It was believed this would prevent decay-causing infection. However, research by the United States Forest Service proved that this actually works against nature’s design and do not prevent decay.
Again, the short answer is no. Topping, heading back and dehorning are all terms used to describe severe cutting back of a tree’s crown. It is a poor arboricultural practice and should not be used for healthy tree maintenance.