Your yard is a vital part of your Portland, Vancouver or Salem home and since your home is probably one of your biggest investments, it makes sense to protect it. This is why taking care of your trees and shrubs should be a priority and proper pruning is a practice that will keep them strong, healthy and looking good.
Pruning for safety
Safety is the #1 reason for pruning. This is the practice of removing branches that could fall or break and cause injury to people or damage property. Branches that restrict visibility of streets and driveways should also be removed or trimmed as well as branches that are close to power lines or touching buildings.
FYI-When planting trees, it is good practice to choose a species of tree that won’t grow beyond the space available to it and have the strength and characteristics suited to that space. If that is done, you can often avoid or reduce the need for safety pruning as it grows and matures.
Pruning for health
Health is the next most important reason for pruning as it helps trees and shrubs develop a strong structure thereby reducing the chances of damage during high winds or severe weather. If any branches are broken or damaged, removal of them encourages wound closure, which is good for the tree’s health.
Pruning for health can include any of the following:
1. Removing diseased or insect-infested wood
2. Thinning the crown to increase airflow
3. Remove branches that cross or rub together
Pruning for aesthetics
This type of pruning is done to keep trees and shrubs looking their best. It includes trimming to improve the natural form of a tree. Some trees do very little ‘self-pruning’ and this is when pruning for form is important.
What is self-pruning?
It’s a natural process all woody plants continually go through as it’s their reaction to shading and competition. Limbs that don’t produce enough carbohydrates from photosynthesis (which is how a plant produces food for itself) to nourish themselves will die and eventually shed (like dead skin cells on your body). When a branch is shed, the resulting wounds are sealed by woundwood (also called callus).
If branches are broken off during one of our famous NW storms or from a buildup of snow and ice, it usually leaves large ragged wounds that don’t seal. This is where regular pruning helps to decrease the chances of storm damage and/or replace the self-pruning process as it proactively trims branches that would eventually be shed or could potentially break.
Let’s talk about tree forms
The 2 most common types of tree forms are pyramidal (technical name is excurrent) and spherical (technical name is decurrent). Trees with pyramidal crowns (like conifers or evergreens) get their name because they are shaped like a pyramid or triangle: wide at the base and grow narrow as they reach the top. They have a strong central trunk with lateral branches that do not compete with the trunk for dominance.
Trees with spherical crowns (think sphere or circle-shaped) are mostly hardwood trees and they have many lateral branches that can compete for dominance. The experts at General Tree Service always consider the tree’s natural form when pruning. Proper pruning will enhance the form whereas improper pruning can destroy it.
Pruning depends on the age of the tree
When a tree is young, the main purpose of pruning should be to produce a strong structure so it grows to be sturdy. As it matures, the focus turns to maintaining its strong structure, along with promoting its form, health and appearance.
Pruning terms you may have heard
While there are many pruning terms we can talk about, here are 3 that are most commonly used:
It’s a method where the lower branches of the tree are removed (effectively raising the crown of the tree). This provides clearance for people, cars and building so they aren’t running into branches and it also can improve the line of sight.
This type of pruning consists of the selective removal of one or more of the following items: dead, dying or diseased branches, weak branches and watersprouts.
This type of pruning consists of the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration, air movement, reduce weight and provide proper structure.
The moral of this story is that pruning needs to be done by experts who practice accepted pruning methods. The professionals at General Tree Service are members of the TCIA (Tree Care Industry Association) and the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) so contact General Tree Service to talk about how we can make the trees and shrubs in your Portland, Salem or Vancouver WA yard stay strong and healthy for years to come.