1/28/11

Tree Experts - Why Prune A Tree, Specially In The Winter?

First of all, what good does tree pruning trimming and shaping do for my trees? Secondly, why do it in the winter months? Trimming a tree or pruning is necessary for many reasons. An important reason to prune a tree is to lessen the chance of it falling during a wind or ice storm. Thinning a large tree canopy is a great way to reduce wind resistance. Once pruned, air can now breeze with ease through the top of a tree requiring much less stabilization and pressure on the root system. Tree maintenance is also appealing to the eye like grass cutting. Cutting dead limbs helps prevent the spread of disease or bacteria, and avoids potential hazards. There are many benefits to trimming, shaping, & pruning a tree.

So why is pruning a tree in the winter so effective? There are many reasons. I will point out a few important ones.

It is Cheaper! Most tree cutting service prices are low in the winter months since this is a slow period. Local tree service cost is very competitive during this season.

It is cold outside. Trees go to sleep (dormant) in the winter much like our beloved Bear! Vascular cambium is slow; the tree relies on its reserves for nourishment, and does not use a lot of energy. So why does this help for cutting a limb? For some species it’s very important because sap flow is not heavy and the tree will not bleed.

Leaves are gone. Deciduous as opposed to Evergreen trees leaves have fallen, therefore the debris is much less when trimming your trees. Cleanup and chipping the tree debris becomes much easier.

So how do tree trimming & tree cutting services determine a dead branch versus a live branch without leaves? An experienced tree climber can tell the difference. This is a picture of a Red Maple (Acer rubrum) tree limb, one dead and one alive. The dead limb is a bit discolored, cracked, and dried out. The live limb has a healthier more rich color tone, together, and flexible. You can also see that the new growth is much more abundant than the dead limb. The texture of the dead limb is very rough while the texture of the live limb is smooth. If you try to break the dead limb, it’s easy to snap apart. Whereas if you try to break the live limb, it’s more difficult and will rip cut or tear by its live moist wood. Live limbs usually have vibrant terminal buds, and dead limbs terminal buds are dried up, black or dark brown, or completely non-existent depending on how long the branch has been dead.

Depending on the tree species, dead limbs generally droop, and live limbs are usually more upright.

Dead Maple Branch

Alive Maple Branch

Generally, when a tree climber is up a tree it is easier to identify dead limbs than from below. The sunlight helps from above also, from below there is usually a shadow under the branches making it difficult to see subtle differences. The best way to prune or trim a tree is naturally. This means that only diseased, dying, dead, split, jagged, or improperly balanced limbs are removed. It is necessary sometimes to remove live limbs, especially if a tree is potentially hazardous with a lean. If a large heavy limb is on the side of the lean and the tree has grown towards a structure, then by removing this large limb (leader) you can decrease the chance of tree fall. A trees canopy and weight of large limbs has a lot to do with why a tree falls in a storm. Especially a tree is not diseased or dead, although usually there is a mix of issues for a large tree to tumble over in a storm.

Tree trimming, cutting, pruning, & shaping are necessary tasks. As homeowners, it is our responsibility to maintain our trees and keep our yards and neighbors safe. Performing tree work of any kind in the winter is a smart move on the annual tree maintenance budget. So put on a warm coat, get out there in that Cold weather, and get those trees pruned!

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