Pruning tips for tree health and safety
Pruning is the most common tree maintenance procedure and is done for a variety of reasons. Removing dead, dying or diseased branches improves the health of the tree and promotes healthy growth. Dead branches also pose a danger to people and property. In urban areas, branches may get too close to electrical lines or block traffic views.
In areas prone to cyclones, pruning dead limbs and thinning out branches is a good idea before cyclone season begins. Excess foliage can result in trees being top heavy and being more vulnerable to toppling over in storms, with the additional danger of falling branches that could damage buildings or other property.
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Pruning may also be done to regulate the size and shape of the tree, or to improve the quality of the flowers, fruit or timber.
Other specific types of pruning may be undertaken to maintain a mature tree in a safe, healthy and attractive condition. Knowing the basic terms commonly used to describe tree work operations will allow you to ask for what you want and understand what your arborist recommends for your tree requirements.
Thinning is a process of selective branch removal to improve the structure of the tree, reduce weight on heavy limbs and to increase light penetration and air flow throughout the tree. This can also increase foliage and decrease the risk of disease.
Crown Thinning involves the removal of a portion of smaller branches, usually from the outer crown, to create a uniform density of foliage and an evenly spaced branch structure. Crown thinning does not alter the overall size or shape of the tree, but does allow more light to pass through the tree and reduces weight and wind resistance.
Crown Lift or Crown Raising involves the removal of the lowest branches, to effectively increase light transmission to areas closer to the tree or to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, people, and vistas.
Good practice dictates that crown lifting should not typically include the removal of large branches growing directly from the trunk, as this can lead to long term problems with disease and decay or biomechanical instability in the short term. In mature trees lifting should be restricted to secondary branches or shortening of primary branches rather than removal of the whole branch.
Crown Reduction reduces the size of a tree, often for power line clearance. This is achieved via a reduction in height and/or spread of the crown of a tree. A crown reduction may be undertaken to reduce mechanical stress on individual branches or the whole tree, reduce shading or to make the tree more suited to its immediate environment.
Pruning in young trees
Proper pruning of young trees is essential to developing a strong structure and desirable form. Pruning trees correctly while they are young will ensure that they require less corrective pruning as they mature.
For most young trees, it’s essential to maintain a single dominant leader growing upward, and secondary branches should be pruned so as not to outgrow the main leader.
Leading Australian arborist James O’Brien has been providing high-quality tree care to Melbourne clients for nearly a decade, including pruning, landscaping and tree removal.
“The best time for pruning most trees is in late winter when the tree is dormant. Tree work undertaken in the spring may cause a tree to become more vulnerable to attack by pests and disease, and if done in autumn the tree may not be able to get all the nutrients that it needs and suffer undue stress.
Pruning should also be avoided during periods of seasonal weather extremes such as drought or heavy frost, or during a period of physiological stress following previous tree work, or construction-related damage.
Pruning should always be preceded by a proper evaluation of the tree’s condition, and significant pruning such as a crown lift, reduction or crown thinning should be carried out by a qualified arborist. Improper pruning can create lasting damage or even shorten the tree’s life,” says O’Brien.
OB TREES Arborist and Vegetation Management Specialists service southeast Melbourne suburbs. And specialise in professional tree care, providing fast, simple solutions for all your pruning, horticultural and landscaping needs. The team are fully qualified, insured arborists with years of hands-on experience in everything from tree pruning, removal and preservation to hedge trimming, stump removal, risk management, vegetation management and tree obstruction resolution.
For further information visit OB TREES Arborist and Vegetation Management Specialists or call their friendly team on +61 435 912 457
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