Proper tree pruning is crucial to keeping your property safe and your tree happy. You can’t simply get a machete and hack away without damaging your tree.
Today, let’s take a look at how to properly prune your tree, starting with the reasons why you should do it at all.
Why Prune Your Tree at all?
The short answer is, it’s good for the health of your tree and it’s good for your property. In the wild, trees naturally shed diseased or malnourished limbs and branches where they then decompose on the forest floor. In your front yard, however, you can’t wait around for the limbs and branches to fall naturally. It’s important that you protect your family and your home, all the while keeping your landscape looking sharp. So take action to preemptively lop off limbs and branches before your tree sheds them. You’ll find that with any kind of tree, regular pruning often encourages growth, gives your tree a more symmetrical look, and prevents damage from falling limbs.
Evergreen or Deciduous
Evergreen and deciduous trees are largely different and require different pruning techniques to keep them happy and healthy.
Proper pruning is all about the utilizing the proper tree trimming tools. Any tool you use to cut branches or limbs should be sharp in order to get a good, clean cut and to prevent damage that will hinder the tree wound healing process. Keep your tools clean and dry to avoid rust. When pruning diseased limbs, disinfect your cutters to keep from spreading the disease to other trees. This will minimize the potential of spreading tree fungus, parasites, or other diseases that could harm healthy trees.
Here are a few essential tools you’ll need to prune any tree:
Many trees don’t need wound dressing at all, but for some, covering cuts larger than an inch in diameter will help prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases. Using pruning paint on larger cuts is essential in certain areas of the United States, especially on oak trees, which may be more vulnerable to attack by bark beetles.
When to Call a Professional
There are many instances when you should call in the professionals to help you prune your tree. If there are particularly large or dangerous branches higher up in a tree that you may have difficulty getting to, it pays to bring in a professional rather than risk injury or significant property damage. Professionals have the experience and the equipment to take out hard-to-reach limbs and branches safely. Sometimes your equipment isn’t quite up to the challenge, and it makes more sense to call a professional who has the proper equipment for the job.
Rain, lightning, high winds or a combination of any of these severe weather outbreaks can stress your trees – from their root systems all the way to their branches and leaves. Proper tree maintenance can reduce damage to your trees and property, maximizing your safety.
It’s a simple fact: healthy landscape trees endure storms better than unhealthy trees. There are three factors that come into play when you’re preparing your trees for high winds and severe weather: the density of the tree canopy, the strength of the branches and the health of the root system.
Regular tree maintenance can mean a world of difference when it comes to tree strength during a storm. Preventative pruning to thin the top of the tree – the canopy – reduces wind resistance and in turn, the force that can damage branches or even the trunk of the tree. In addition, pruning removes dead branches that can break easily, causing damage to the tree and the surrounding landscapes. Strong branches are better able to withstand high winds. Both the size of a branch and the size of its attachment to the rest of the tree determine its strength, so careful evaluation is needed to determine which branches may need to be removed or reinforced by cabling and bracing.
Protecting the root system of the tree is important, too. A wide mulch ring around the base of the tree removes the need to use lawn mowing equipment close to the roots of the tree, minimizing damage, and also allows water and nutrients to drain down through the soil to the roots.
In addition to the excessive forces that come with storms in the form of high winds, lightning is also a concern with summer storms. Lightning will strike anything that provides a good path for the electrical charge to travel from the storm cloud to the ground, including trees. Installing lightning protection systems in valuable trees can help prevent damage.
Your arborist may recommend a lightning protection system for your landscape trees that directs electrical forces down a series of wires and into the ground, away from the tree itself.
Watch for Cavities
An open cavity in a tree’s trunk, just like in a person’s mouth, creates a weak spot in the entire structure. A tree with strong, healthy wood is more likely to survive destructive, stormy weather.
We want your trees to be at their best no matter what the weather. Learn more about preparing your trees for storms and severe weather by calling Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists today.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, there are 950 tree species in 81 plant families that are native to North America (not including species varieties or subspecies).
Below is a list of some of the most commonplace native trees in the United States, according to several Federal surveys of tree species stem count.
Red maple (Acer rubrum)
Always offering a bit of red no matter the season, with red buds in the winter, red flowers in the spring, red leafstalks in the summer and red foliage in the fall, red maples can tolerate a variety of soils, helping it have a wide range. It can grow in a USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.
This shade tree can grow to 40-60 feet high and 40 feet wide when mature. It has a fast growth rate and prefers full sun. It is the state tree of Rhode Island.
Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
Also known as bull pine or old-field pine, this is one of the fastest growing southern pines and is native to the east coast of North America ranging from New Jersey to Florida to Texas. It provides food and shelter for a number of southeastern birds and the seeds are consumed by chipmunks and squirrels.
This pine has a USDA Hardiness Zones of 6-9 and can grow in a variety of soils. It grows 60-90 feet high and 25-35 feet wide at maturity. It is the state tree of Arkansas.
American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Native to the southeastern United States, this tree has glossy green star-shaped leaves that turn yellow, purple and red in the fall and stay on the tree late into the season. It produces round burr-like fruit that collects underfoot in the landscape and can quickly take over abandoned areas.
Sweetgum grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9 and has a height of 60-75 feet and 40-50 feet spread when mature. It can grow in various soils but does not tolerate pollution well.
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
An evergreen with a cone-shape when young that becomes more pyramidal as it ages, the Douglas-fir’s needle coloration depends on the variety. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Douglas-fir is written as one word or hyphenated to indicate that it is not a true fir. It is the state tree of Oregon. It is also a popular Christmas tree choice due to its nice shape and the needles do not fall off easily.
It has a USDA Hardiness Zones of 4-6. It can grow to 40-70 feet high and 12-20 feet wide at maturity. It prefers acidic or neutral soils and does not do well in dry, poor soils.
Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Said to have the widest natural range of any tree in North America, quaking aspen gets its name from how the slightest breeze causes the leaves to “quake.” Aspen is known as the largest living organism, as it reproduces by sending sprouts from their roots, meaning all the trees in a clone are connected. It is the state tree of Utah.
This shade tree thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 1-7 and grows to a height of 40-50 feet. It spreads 20-30 feet when mature. It is a fast grower and it prefers abundant moisture.
Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
A showstopper in the fall, sugar maple leaves’ turn yellow, burnt orange and red in autumn. This tree does best in well-drained, fertile soil and should not be planted in confined areas or where salt is a problem. It is a staple of the Northeast maple syrup industry.
Sugar maples can grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8. They can grow to a height of 60-75 feet and spread to 40-50 feet when mature. It has a slow to medium growth rate. It is the state tree of New York, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)
This evergreen has a narrow, spire shape with shiny dark green needles. It is adapted to a number of sites from swamps to rocky mountainsides, but it grows best in cold climates with acidic, moist soil. This is another popular Christmas tree option.
It grows in the USDA Hardiness Zones 3-5. It grows from 45-75 feet high and 20-25 feet wide at maturity. It has a slow growth rate.
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
A popular understory tree with biscuit-shaped flowers, flowering dogwood also offers glossy red berries that attract birds. It blooms in April and May and does well in acidic, well-drained soil.
Flowering dogwood thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9. It reaches a maximum height of 25 feet and spread of 25 feet at maturity. It is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia, while it is the state flower of North Carolina.
Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)
Getting its name from its slender pole-like trunk, the lodgepole pine does best in full sun to light shade and adapts to a variety of soils. It begins to bear cones early on from six to 10 years of age.
This evergreen grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8. It has a mature height of 70-80 feet and a spread of 20 feet. It has a slow to medium growth rate.
White oak (Quercus alba)
Considered to be the king of kings when it comes to trees, according to naturalist Donald Peattie, white oak is the state tree of Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland. This shade tree’s acorns provide food for many types of wildlife.
The white oak grows in Hardiness Zones 3-9 and prefers slightly acidic to neutral well-draining soils. It has a mature height of 50-80 feet and a spread of 50-80.
As you celebrate the role of trees in the environment and maybe even plant some new trees for customers, keep some of these native trees in mind, as they can tolerate the local climate better and are more beneficial to the wildlife in the area as well.
You can also use the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard to find best tree recommendations for your property or call Cutting Edge Tree Care Specialists to learn more today!
We are right in the middle of the best tree planting season there is, and that means it’s time to start planning for that crazy summer heat, including planting trees to shade us! A good shade tree will go very far in keeping your cooling bills down, but often nurseries will sell us weaker trees that will cause problems later, with the promise of a tall tree, fast.
Obviously, you want something quick, so as not to be exacerbated by the heat, but you want something strong that will last a while. Unfortunately, most fast growing trees are also very WEAK and more disease prone than slow growing “legacy” trees.
Here’s the good news - With PROPER planning and care, you can have both a healthy tree with fewer problems, and long lasting shade, even with the weakest of trees
Here are a few things you can do with these fast growing “weak” trees that will help you enjoy your fast-growing tree, and the benefits they provide:
1. It may be a temporary solution. Planting a fast-growing tree about 15-20 ft. of the longer lasting tree is a great solution! They won’t compete all that much as young trees, and while you’ll get shade fast, all will not be lost after the weaker tree has passed!
2. Prune out the weaknesses! When planting a weak tree, understand that it very well might have a weak structure! Pruning using proper weight reduction techniques, and structural training the tree will ensure that even if you have a a Bradford pear, that it’s less likely to split on you!
3. Keep your tree healthy! I can’t say this one enough! Trees are like you and I; when we’re healthy, we tend to get sick less. Likewise, healthy trees will stay healthy!
4. Get to the “root of the problem!” It is estimated that 85%-90% of tree health issues start with poor soil quality! Soil is a very complicated subject, and the requirements of healthy soil vary based on what type of soil you have! Mulch is going to be your best long term friend here as it will upgrade the health of the soil, and therefore the tree. When trees are sick, the first thing your Arborist should be checking is the quality of the soil!
5. Fertilize! If you live in an urban or suburban environment, chances are REALLY good that you have a soil that is completely void of nutrients, which means a starving tree! Proper nutrient intake is critical to you and I being healthy, but it’s also key to your tree’s health!
6. Water APPROPRIATELY! Watering alone is not enough. You must water in a way that is both appropriate for YOUR particular species of trees. Be smart about your watering and adjust it to be functional for your unique species of tree!
Here’s a few trees that work well as fast growing trees:
1. Sycamore – Also called an American Planetree, Sycamores tend to get sick more frequently than most. All that aside, they will up to 6’ of growth per year in a healthy year, and have a beautiful white and gray bark with orang-ish accents that adds aesthetic value to any landscape!
2. Aristocrat Pear – Notice I did not say “Bradford Pear!” Aristocrat pears are the updated and improved “2.0” version of the Bradford pear. Aristocrat Pears are much more structurally sound, and you get the fast growing benefits of Bradford pears.
3. Weeping Willow - Weeping willows are EXTREMELY fast-growing tree, putting out up to 8’ of growth per year! While there are several hybrid varieties more suitable to drier growing conditions, most willow trees need a TON of water, which is why you often see them on river banks. Keep them WELL-watered, and you will have a great tree for at least 20 years!
4. Red Oak/Pin Oak – make absolutely sure that you don’t confuse the two. Red oaks are not pin oaks, and pin oaks are not red oaks. Red oaks are adapted to more alkaline (clay usually) soils, and pin oaks do better in a more acidic (usually sand) soil, however both will give you great shade, and grow up to 4’ in a year early on!
5. Red or Silver Maple – Along with providing a ton of shade, both trees put on a brilliant display of colors in the in the fall! You should get about 3-5’ of growth each year, and get a nice 40’-50’ tree at maturity. They both love a more acidic and moist soil though, so make sure growing conditions are right, and you will have a great tree for many years!
There you have it, don’t listen to the neigh-sayers … just because a tree grows at a fast rate doesn’t mean that you have to have a terrible tree that will cause you countless issues! Be smart about your fast growing tree selection, and you are sure to get the desired shade you’re looking for AND have a great tree for many years!
Envision the moment when snow and ice slowly start to melt away from your landscape. The time sun peaks through after a stint of gloomy skies. Or, the day you can walk outside to soak up the fresh aroma of newly sprouted plants.
We’ll bet you’re ready for spring. We know we are!
Now is the time to make sure your trees are just as prepared. Follow the phases of spring tree care below to boost tree nutrients and strength for a healthy growing season.
PHASE I: BEFORE WAVING WINTER GOODBYE
PHASE II: A PRE-BLOOM PREP
PHASE III: DURING SPRINGTIME SPROUTS
LOOKING FOR MORE SEASONAL TIPS? CONTACT CUTTING EDGE TREE CARE SPECIALISTS.