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Tree Pruning: volume 1, Why to Prune Trees in Austin, TX

by Keith Brown
April 15, 2009

Tree Pruning in Austin is complicated by many factors. There are several subjects that should be examined such as when to prune, what to prune and how to prune. In this article I’m going to focus on why to prune trees and what factors relate specifically to Austin. Health, cosmetics and safety make up the meat of the formula I use to understand why you should prune your trees.

Let’s start with pruning for tree health. Most everybody loves trees; we want them to live long and prosper. Just like your doctor can prescribe you exercises and eating habits that will help you live longer, tree pruning can add to the overall life expectancy of a tree; as long as the pruning is done right. In Austin, we have to worry about Oak Wilt. Pruning your trees properly can reduce your chances of contracting oak wilt, and conversely, failing to take precautions can cause unnecessary exposure to the deadly fungus. Look at my Oak Wilt articles for details on this. Pruning a tree to remove dead limbs helps the tree heal the wound and limits overall stem decay in the tree. The motivating factor to prune your trees isn’t always to improve the health of the tree, sometimes (maybe even most of the time), trees are simply in the way and we need to remove limbs that are too close to the house or in the street. In these scenarios the idea is to prune the tree in a manner that offers the least damage to tree health.

Moving on, the number one reason to not let uncle Bob prune your tree is cosmetics; the amputated-arm-look is not in. And, regardless how good your landscape designer is he can’t recreate a the majesty of well manicured, mature shade tree. Tree pruning is an art mastered only by years of experience. Aside from the aesthetics of a tree, one also has to consider how the tree impacts the surrounding landscape. Pruning may be needed to allow sunlight for the turf, trees may be over-crowded by ambitious landscaping and need to be shaped and thinned, or center piece trees may need sculpting to really set off the look of the landscape. Or, for the true naturalist, tree pruning should be done in a matter that improves the health of the tree without compromising the natural look.

One natural thing about trees that most people over look is that trees naturally fall apart as they age. Pruning is one of the tools you have to help prevent your favorite tree from crashing into your house. Structural integrity might be the most important thing your arborist should be looking for. Most tree pruning guidelines are built around this subject. Usually when you see failed tree, be it from a storm or a random summer afternoon, there is usually some defect that led to the disaster. The best pruners have an eye for included bark and decay. Cabling and bracing are other techniques that can be used in conjunction with pruning to improve the safety of your tree.

I think this subject is sufficiently over-complicated at this point. If you’re the type that chooses to hire professionals to do things for you, you should have enough ammunition to do your interviews. For the do-it-yourself guy/gal keep reading. This is an introduction to the subjects surrounding tree pruning; you have a lot of reading ahead of you. We still need to cover what to prune, how to prune and when to prune.

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