Certain types of pruning should be avoided because they can harm the tree’s health, stability, or aesthetics.
Here are some pruning practices that should generally be avoided, along with reasons why they can be detrimental…
- Topping or Heading Back – Topping involves cutting off the upper portion of a tree’s main branches or trunk to reduce its height. This practice should be avoided because it can lead to a host of problems, including:
- Rapid regrowth of weak, poorly attached branches.
- Increased risk of disease and decay at the cut sites.
- Unattractive, disfigured growth.
- Reduced overall tree health and longevity.
- Flush Cutting – Cutting branches flush with the trunk or parent branch can result in significant damage to the tree. This practice should be avoided because:
- It can create larger wounds that are slower to heal.
- It increases the risk of rot and decay spreading into the main trunk.
- Proper branch collars, where branches meet the trunk, should be preserved for optimal healing.
- Excessive Thinning – Over-thinning, or removing too many branches within a tree’s canopy, can have negative consequences:
- Reduced ability to produce food through photosynthesis.
- Increased vulnerability to stress, pests, and diseases.
- Risk of sunscald or sunburn on exposed branches and trunk.
- Raising the Canopy Too High – Removing too many lower branches to create excessive clearance under the tree can weaken its structure and cause instability. It’s advisable to avoid raising the canopy to an extent that compromises the tree’s balance and strength.
- Drastic Pruning During the Growing Season – Heavy pruning during the summer, when trees are actively growing, can stress the tree and interfere with its ability to photosynthesize and recover. It’s best to avoid extensive pruning during this time.
- Using Wound Dressing – Applying wound dressings or sealants to pruning cuts is generally unnecessary and can even hinder proper wound healing. Trees are better at healing their own wounds when pruned correctly.
- Pruning too Close to the Trunk – Making cuts too close to the main trunk can damage the branch collar, which is the area where the branch meets the trunk and has specialized tissues for wound healing. Avoid cutting into this collar area.
- Ignoring Local Regulations – Avoid pruning practices that are not in compliance with local regulations and guidelines. Many areas have specific rules governing tree pruning and preservation, and it’s important to adhere to them.
To ensure the health and longevity of your trees and to maintain their structural integrity and aesthetic appeal, follow proper pruning techniques and consult with a certified arborist or tree care professional if you’re unsure about the best approach to pruning for your specific trees and circumstances. Proper pruning practices can promote tree health, safety, and beauty while avoiding damage and potential problems.