We're revolutionizing the tree trimming industry! Introducing Arbor Anesthetics - the new technology that allows us to humanely trim your trees. Now you can rest assured - your tree will feel absolutely no pain during the limb removal process! Isn't it time we treated our trees with more respect?
APRIL FOOLS! But all joking aside, there is a right and a wrong way to trim a tree. Every cut is a wound. Trimming a tree correctly leverages a tree's own recovery system, which walls off decay and prevents the spread of disease.
Here are FIVE ways you can prevent harm to your trees:
Don't fool around with your trees! Hire a professional, Certified Arborist, like Arbor Aesthetics Tree Service!
Tree trimming is an essential component of tree care in an urban setting. Limbs need to be removed over streets and sidewalks, away from roofs and gutters, or even in the yard if the homeowner needs to be able to walk under the tree. Removing these limbs may seem straightforward, and one might be tempted to remove them in such a way that it appears the limb never existed, by way of cutting it completely flush with the trunk. This is what we call a "flush cut" and it is an improper pruning technique that can cause serious harm to your tree.
Trees have a response to wounding, coined "Compartmentalization of Decay in Trees" or "CODIT." A tree "walls" off decay in four layers of bark tissue, preventing decay from moving vertically, radially and tangentially. When a wound occurs naturally, the tree gets to work using its own defense mechanism to keep decay-causing fungi from spreading. When a wound occurs during routine tree pruning (yes - it's a still a wound!), a trained arborist can take steps to ensure the tree is given its best shot at using its CODIT system.
Maintaining the branch collar is critical in tree pruning and allows the tree to form a proper callus around the wound. The illustration to the right shows a clear swelling of tissue at the branch collar as the tree is preparing to shed a dead limb naturally. Trees know what they're doing! When we prune live limbs, we can use this as a model for where to make our cut - by not cutting into the branch collar. The branch bark ridge is not always obvious, and when it is not easy to identify the collar, we consider it best practice to come away from the trunk slightly. It would be better to leave more of a stub than it would be to cut into the branch collar.
In general (and certainly not in all cases), a proper pruning cut will result in a circular wound or as close to a circle as possible. In the photos, you can see the elliptical shape of the cut where the flush cut was made parallel to the trunk, but not perpendicular to the branch, resulting in a vertical ellipse where we can see the branch collar was removed.
If you are unsure where you make a proper pruning cut, it's best to consult a certified arborist. You can read more about DIY Pruning in a previous blog post.
In years when food is scarce for squirrels (such as last year when the maple trees did not produce many seeds due to a late frost), they can resort to eating bark to meet their nutritional needs. If this is happening, we recommend offering an alternative food and water source, such as nuts and seeds, to deter them from stripping the bark. Stripping bark can expose the xylem of the tree, leaving it susceptible to insects and diseases. They can also potentially girdle a tree and cause long term damage.
Research indicates that bark stripping has a higher occurrence following a "mast year" where trees produce a bumper crop of fruits and seeds, which may correlate with a higher population of juvenile squirrels. Here is an excellent article from Ohio State University about bark stripping.
EATING TREE BUDS
tree trimming to protect young squirrels
Amy Grewe, Certified Arborist & Co-Owner