Pruning Mature Trees
A tree growing natually assumes the shape that allows it to make the best use of light in a given location and climate, which isn't always ideal for your landscape. Trees in the urban landscape can become unsightly or unhealthy and may create a liability for your property.
By definition, tree and shrub pruning is the removal or reduction of certain parts of a tree or shrub that are not required. The most common reasons for pruning include: risk management/safety, aesthetics, plant health, and to improve quality of flowers, fruit, foliage or stems. The Certified Arborists at Paul Bunyan’s Tree Service understand that pruning should be done with an understanding of how the tree responds to each cut. Improper pruning can cause damage that will last for the entire life of the tree, or worse, shorten the tree's life.
All tree pruning at Paul Bunyan is done to ANSI A300 Standards. These standards have been developed by the Tree Care Industry Association along with the American Standards Institute (ANSI). They are performance standards based on current research and sound practice for writing specifications to manage trees, shrubs, and other woody plants.
Pruning mature trees takes special care. Each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, so no branch should be removed without a reason. Common reasons for pruning mature trees include removal of dead branches, removal of crowded or rubbing limbs, and/or to eliminate hazards. Trees can also be pruned to increase light and air penetration to the inside of the tree’s crown or to the turf or landscape below. Mature trees are routinely pruned as a corrective or preventive measure.
The Certified Arborists at Paul Bunyan’s Tree Service understand proper pruning and have the knowledge of tree biology and physiology to help you maintain tree health and structure while enhancing the aesthetic and economic values of your landscape.
Pruning Young Trees
One aspect of pruning that is frequently overlooked by consumers is structural pruning of young trees. A good structure of primary scaffold branches should be established while a tree is young. The scaffold branches provide the framework for growth of a mature tree.
The most common goal in training young trees is to establish a strong trunk with sturdy, well-spaced branches. The strength of the branch structure and the tree depends on the relative sizes of the branches, the branch angles, and the spacing of the limbs. Naturally, those factors vary with the growth habit of each individual tree. White Oaks and Sweetgums, for example, have a conical shape with a central leader. Elms are often wide-spreading without a central leader. Other trees, such as Bradford pears, are densely branched. Properly trained young trees will mediate future expense and help ensure the longevity of your trees. The professionals at Paul Bunyan's Tree Service are experts at young tree pruning and are happy to help protect your landscape investment.
Well-nourished trees and shrubs have better resistance to disease, insect attack and drought. That’s a fact. Shade trees, like any other landscape plant, respond well to fertilization and act as a key aspect of a total Plant Health Care Program. With proper fertilization and soil management, trees will develop healthy root systems which will result in a healthy, vigorous crown.
In the forest enviroment the essential elements needed for growth are derived from the breakdown of soil minerals and organic matter. Fallen leaves, twigs, and branches provide an excellent ground cover which is low in density, resistant to compaction, and allows for rapid entry of rain water. Evaporation of soil moisture is slowed by this litter layer. As the litter breaks down into humus and finer organic matter components, the nutrient retention capacity of the soil is increased, pH is naturally modified to fit the plants' needs, and soil particles are joined together, making a porous, nutrient rich soil.
In the urban landscape, many of these processes don't occur. Fallen leaves and twigs are removed, breaking the natural nutrient cycle. Most urban trees have turf growing over their root systems. Trees surrounded by turf don't grow as well as trees that are properly mulched. There are numerous reasons for this including competition for water and nutrients as wells as alleleopathy. Grass roots tend to be much finer and denser than tree roots. Therefore, they have greater access to soil volume under a tree. When surface applications of fertilizers are applied, grass roots tend to absorb the majority of the nutrients and the remaining nutrients are often not adequate enough to supply the needs of a tree.
Mature trees growing in confined areas without fertilization or nutrient cycling can deplete the soil of essential elements. Decades of nutrient absorption without any significant replacement can leave the soil depleted and reduce the growth potential of the tree.
Trees which are nutrient deficient grow more slowly and are more suspectible to injury from air pollution, drought, soil compaction, temperature extremes, and disease stress. Insects can be attracted to weakened trees and shrubs and do more damage to nutrient deficient plants. A combination of these factors will lead to shorter tree and shrub lives and are less aesthetically pleasing.
Do all trees and shrubs require fertilization? NO! Trees growing in fertile soils often have adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients. This is often the exception, rather than the rule.
Our Fertilization and Soil Management Program is designed to deliver specific nutrients to your tree as quickly as possible. We take soil health seriously. One of our tools to measure soil health is a Soil Diagnostic to measure pH, available nutrients, and Cation Exchange Capacity (used to measure a soil’s ability to retain nutrients and fertility). Once your Soil Diagnostic test results are returned, one of our Certified Arborists will call you to discuss the results and offer suggestions to improve your long-term soil health.
Most tree problems caused by disease or insects can be avoided. Each tree has defined stages of maturity and each stage has specific needs that must be met to ensure healthy development. Common to all stages is the necessity to avoid damaging the tree’s life support system: the roots, the branches, the leaves and the bark. A tree that is in good health obviously has a better chance of surviving the ravages of certain insects or diseases than one with weakened life support systems.
It is our belief at Paul Bunyan's Tree Service that prevention of injury and disease is vital to ensuring your tree’s survival into a healthy old age. Over-watering is one of the most common forms of injury to trees. Over-watering is never intentional. Most of us don’t know the proper frequency and amount of water required by each species. Sometimes over-watering is done in a passive fashion—by lack of proper drainage. When the soil around the root system fails to dry, rotting of the roots can occur. This damage weakens the tree, and allows opportunistic diseases to attack and sometimes kill the tree. As we work with you, we will teach you the correct method of watering your trees. We may also recommend correcting poor drainage conditions that allow a tree to sit in soggy soil.
A lack of variety of different tree species in an area contributes to the spread of diseases. Many established urban forests were devastated because only a limited number of species were planted, allowing species-specific diseases an easy means of proliferation. Experience shows it is healthier for trees to be planted among a variety of other tree species just as occurs in nature. By preventing potential problems, it is also more economical.
Trees provide a home for a variety of insects. Most are harmless. Some are just unsightly. Some are beneficial. There are, however, certain insects whose presence should be cause for alarm and immediate response. Carpenter ants and termites, for example, are indications of dead wood under the bark. They aren’t causing the damage, rather they are there because the damage is already present. They are an outward sign that something is wrong with the health of the tree.
Some insects like the Dutch Elm beetle cause damage by introducing disease. Others, like the Tent Caterpillar, can eat all of the foliage on a tree. Borers cause damage to the bark and capillary systems of the tree, leaving a sap-oozing opening where other insects can invade.
Parasites for trees aren’t just limited to insect life. Some parasites are also plants themselves. Fungus growth on a tree, especially at the base, might be cause for concern. A tree that has mushroom -like growths around its base may be in serious trouble. Mistletoe is another common plant parasite in our area. It depletes the tree’s nutrients, thereby causing stress on the tree, a condition that threatens the overall health of the tree.
Another option to a conventional spray application in our Integrated Pest Management program. This program provides integrated, holistic, and preventive approaches to enhance the environment in which trees and shrub grow. Many insect and disease problems can be prevented by correcting cultural conditions and sources of stress. IPM programs reduce pesticide usage dramatically, are on-going, and developed specifically for each property.
Plant Diagnostics and Analysis are services we offer when a tree is suffering from an unknown ailment. A Plant Diagnostic and Analysis typically involves taking a tissue and/or soil sample to help determine the cause of your tree’s decline or stress. These samples are sent to a laboratory for testing. Once the results are returned, we will contact you to provide our recommendations with your goals in mind.
The decision to remove a tree should not be taken lightly in any case. Tree removals should only be performed by a qualified company that employs skilled workers who operate in a safe and efficient manner. All Paul Bunyan employees wear appropriate safety gear for your protection and theirs. Our crews are trained to remove trees in difficult to reach locations our specialized equipment allows us access to areas other companies can only dream about.
Paul Bunyan’s Tree Service carries appropriate Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance to protect you and your home and all work is conduct in a safe and efficient manner.
All too often trees develop weak or poor structure, requiring special care to preserve them and prevent further injury. Even trees that are routinely maintained may develop weaknesses that affect their own safety and that of people and property. The most common problem is the weak attachment that may occur when two or more branches of about equal size arise at approximately the same level on the trunk. Horizontal branches can become heavy and dangerous, leaving them more vulnerable to weakening by decay and storms. Proper pruning can shorten, lighten and thin hazardous branches. And yet in some cases, this may be inadequate to keep certain limbs or trees safe. In such instances, cabling and bracing may be required to reduce stress.
Cabling involves the attachment of a flexible steel cable between branches to limit excessive limb motion and to reduce stress on a crotch or branches. Sometimes trees are cabled together for support. Bracing uses bolts or threaded rods to rigidly secure weak or split crotches, unite split trunks or branches and hold rubbing limbs together or apart. Before you undertake cabling or bracing, however, assess the internal condition of trunk and main branches and the value of the tree as compared with the cost of labor, supplies and continued maintenance. Is the tree worth the effort?
At Paul Bunyan's Tree Service, all cabling and bracing performed is performed in accordance with industry accepted standards, as outlined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). All hardware used by Paul Bunyan's Tree Service for cabling and bracing is designed for use in trees and is installed accordingly. Extra high strength cable, along with forged lag bolts (with no open ends to eliminate spreading) and pre-formed cable grips provide a positive solution to the weak structure of a tree.
Inspect cabling at least annually to check the cable tension and the stability of the anchor lags and bolts. If a tree is vigorous, you may need to raise the cabling in eight to ten years to provide adequate support. Notify Paul Bunyan's Tree Service to perform these annual inspections that are necessary to confirm structural stability of the cables or braces.
Paul Bunyan’s arborists are trained in technical removals of all sizes, and specialize in trees with limited accessibility. We have a crane service available and have developed a protocol for providing emergency services seven days a week. Clients should contact the office if they require emergency tree work. Damaged houses or blocked driveways are addressed first.
Clients with exceptionally valuable trees may be interested in our Lightning Protection services to help protect their trees. Lightning is a real threat to larger trees, especially those that stand alone in the landscape. One of our Certified Arborists at Paul Bunyan’s Tree Service will examine your tree and develop a lightning protection plan that best protects your tree and your investment.