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Tree Pruning, Stop, Don't Top!

The article on this page is original, but has been published in other places on the Internet.

Tree care, Tree pruning, Tree Topping, as it relates to pest prevention and pest control

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Almost every activity related to lawn, garden and landscape has a direct effect on the pest population! Therefore, how you perform the activity, will determine whether the effect is good or bad as it relates to pests. No where is this more direct than in the area of caring for trees!

Thinking of topping a tree? Don't do it!

Just set the chainsaw and the pruners down, take a knee, and give me your attention for a few minutes. I know you want to make it perfect in shape and form, but what you are about to do will eliminate that possibility. Besides that, there is no reason you have to do it to get that just right shape for your tree.

Trees are genetically predisposed to certain shapes. finding your trees natural shape will give you a lot to go by. If it is naturally conical, it will continue to grow into that shape, no matter what you do. If the tree has a rounded habit, it will grow rounded.

Now that you know the shape, if you need to thin the branches a little, that is no problem. Find the base of the unruly branch.  You will notice some callous at the base of the connection. make your cut just outside of this. This area of your tree contains a lot of growth producing cells. When you remove the branch, the cells will kick in quickly to start the recovery process. This will be seen in the form of more callous.

Make a clean cut! Ragged edges slow healing and invite disease.

Never cut part of a branch off and leave the rest sticking out. If you do, this will allow the remaining part of the branch to die back, inviting disease and insects into the tree. eventually it will rot away, leaving a knot hole which will allow water inside to further degrade the infrastructure of the tree. Always cut back to a base or a lateral branch.

As you prune, make sure the branch you are taking off is supported, so that it won't peel away your trees bark. If it is to heavy, tie it off, or use a three cut method. That is, make your first cut several inches away from the lateral branch, so that the majority of the weight is removed before you make the final cut. You should also make a cut underneath and closer to the tree than the first, so that if it starts to peel bark, it will stop when it reaches this cut.

Do not use pruning paint! I know you have always been told to, but don't do it. The materials in the paint will not allow for the proper healing of the wound. the callous will only develop where the paint isn't.

Why not top? If you top a tree, you will notice a sudden burst of young tender growth in the spring. Some people think this indicates a healthy tree. In actuality, it is the trees last ditch effort at survival. It is a mode similar to a human being gasping for air. The new growth will be poorly connected, and will be easy prey to insects, fungus, and disease.

Now, if you have any doubts about the truth of what I am saying, just walk around your neighborhood for a while with what I have said implanted in your mind. You will immediately see the truth of what I am saying. It is self evident.

1. Know your trees natural growth habit.

2. When you prune, prune to a lateral branch.

3. Make a clean cut.

4. Cut just outside the callous of the limb or branch connection.

5. Never leave stubs or nubs of branches. (Number 4 above.)

6. Support the branch being removed. Make three cuts if needed.

7. Do not use pruning paint.

Now crank that saw, and have at it! Be sure to wear your protective gear, so you don't saw off the wrong limb!

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