The Importance of Correct Pruning

Pruning is a very important part of taking care of your trees. When pruning is done correctly there are significant benefits for the tree, but when done incorrectly it can be detrimental.

The actual cut is very important because it not only effects the appearance of trees, they also effect the trees response to the very cuts made. Growth, vigor, and wound wood formation (tissue formed after pruning or wounding) are all influenced by the location and type of cuts made. That is why the tree care industry has created a set of standards, American National Standards Institute, ANSI A300, that professional arborists use when considering pruning trees and plants.

Flush cuts through the branch bark ridge or collar (if present) cause the development of many sprouts and weak branch formation. This type of cut interrupts the food and water supply by severing the phloem and xylem, critical pathways for food and water, leading to dehydration and death of the tissue.

Natural target pruning is the correct procedure and the industry standard used by informed arborists. It means cutting close to the branch bark ridge without cutting into the ridge or collar. It is also very important that branch stubs never be left, because it can lead to the formation of cankers in many trees and prevents closing of the wound, leaving the area open to decay. The angle of the cut is also very important, and should be made in the opposite direction to the branch bark ridge creating an imaginary triangle. This type of cut is only done on trees with no collar present.

There are many reasons to prune a tree, health and safety are the first and most important which brings us back to the importance of correct pruning.

When You Think About Planting, Think About The Environment

Bees, bats, butterflies, birds and beneficial insects all need our help. If you are thinking about planting this spring remember to think about our environment. Pollinators are in trouble. Many of them are mysteriously dying at alarming rates.

I include bats even though they aren’t really pollinators in NH they are very beneficial (1 adult can eat between 600 and 1200 mosquitoes in an hour).

Habitat loss and fragmented forests, environmental contamination, diseases, pesticides, invasive species and unfortunately domestic cats are some of the problems our “friends” are having, which in turn effects us all.

Think about food and shelter for wildlife. Dogwoods, crabapples, shad (Amelanchier) (one of our favorites), high bush blueberries, azalea, viburnums, hollies, butterfly bush, oaks and balsam fir are just a few of the trees and shrubs that attract birds, butterflies and bees. Put up a few birdhouses and bat houses. Leave that dead tree in the woods as long as it isn’t dangerous.

Things to remember when planting:

  1. The right tree in the right place. Don’t plant a tree with a large habit under power lines, it will just be chopped off.
  2. Give the tree room to grow.
  3. Remove burlap and ropes. Remove wire baskets.
  4. Remove soil to expose the trunk flare, failure to do this will have adverse affects in the future.
  5. Keep trees and shrubs well watered. Rainwater alone may not supply the consistent moisture needed.

Sugar Maple damage during tapping

This photo is what happens when over-tapping of trees occurs.

We all know the beginning of spring by the increase in maple sap buckets that adorn maple trees throughout the area. But did you know that collecting maple sap injures the tree? There are several important facts to remember before tapping a tree:

  1. Large old trees should never be tapped.
  2. Only tap trees that are in the woods and not in the front yard of your house. Tapping causes wounds and can stress the plant. It leaves the tree vulnerable to disease and insect damage. Trees around your house provide numerous functional benefits and should be protected. They also add value to your home.
  3. Use a maximum of 3 buckets per tree on large trees only.
  4. Alternated tapping holes by 12” to the side and vertical from previous drill holes.
  5. Don’t forget maple sap is the trees ‘food’ so please leave some for the tree.