Helpful Information About Tree Services We Perform
Why Prune My Trees?
The pruning of trees is probably the most noticeable and important of all tree maintenance practices. Thoughtful pruning produces a structurally sound tree which can better withstand adverse environmental conditions. In addition, properly pruned trees require less cabling, bracing, and sometimes less managing of pests to maintain good health. Appropriate pruning will add to the aesthetics and prolong the useful life of trees.
When to Prune?
Although circumstances beyond the control of arborists often dictate the timing of tree maintenance procedures, there are optimum times to prune to achieve desired effects. Jobs such as removal of safety hazards, dead branches, or diseased branches, however, can be done anytime.
Large cuts should be made in the late winter or early spring before bud break when hydrostatic pressure is greater than atmospheric pressure, i.e., sap pressure is positive. A wound made at that time will cause the tree to "bleed". Although some believe the bleeding to be unsightly, it has a positive benefit in reducing the probability of colonization of the pruning cut by decay organisms. In the spring the rate of callus production is more rapid, further reducing the chance of invasion. Other acceptable pruning times include winter and midsummer.
Spring pruning after budbreak is undesirable because during this time the bark is at its tenderest and damage to the bark is most likely. In addition, the food reserves of the tree are being directed toward new growth, leaving less energy available for wood repair. Pruning in the late summer is also undesirable because it interferes with food storage necessary for growth in the following spring and slows root production. In addition, a number of important decay fungi have been observed to produce their largest numbers of spores during the fall; this is another factor favoring the early spring for major structural reshaping.
Pruning to produce a desired shape or to correct a misshapen crown is most readily accomplished during the growing season. Also, dead or diseased branches are more conspicuous then.
(Referenced from Tree Maintenance by Dr. P. P. Pirone)*
New Construction and Soil Fills
The moment a blanket of soil is placed over the existing soil, a marked disturbance of soil water and the amount and kind of air existing in the soil occurs. A decrease in oxygen content of soil yields an anaerobic soil environment. Air (primarily oxygen) and water are essential for normal functioning roots. Soil microorganisms necessary to break down soil organic matter that serves as food for the roots also need air. In addition, when air is lacking, certain gases and chemicals may increase and become toxic to roots. Toxins produced by anaerobic bacteria may be as harmful as the damage resulting from asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen. Fills may raise the water table, increasing the prospect of an anaerobic root environment, or fills may impede water penetration, subjecting the tree to drought.
The roots do not readily regenerate in the new soil layer, and as a result the roots die; symptoms may become visible in the aboveground parts within a month, or they may not appear for several years. The stockpiling of soil around trees for later use may also have a detrimental effect, especially if it occurs during the growing season.
Should I Have My Tree Topped?
Topping, stubbing, and dehorning are examples of drastic removal or cutting back of large branches in mature trees. Major branches are cut so that stubs several feet long are left without any important side branches attached to them. Topping is not desirable and usually harms the tree.
Many homeowners have their trees topped often by so-called professionals when their trees have reached heights which they consider unsafe. They fear a strong wind might blow over these large trees. This fear is largely unjustified. The extensive root system of a healthy tree, if left relatively undisturbed, provides adequate support for the tree. An old healthy tree with a good root system is actually less likely to blow over than a smaller tree with its smaller, less developed root system.
Some homeowners believe that the stimulation of new growth associated with topping is actually beneficial to the tree. Although the tree appears rejuvenated with new foliage and branches, this only masks the real damage topping does to the tree.
Trees may also be topped to remove potentially hazardous dead and diseased branches which may break off during ice storms or windstorms. Unfortunately, topping removes healthy as well as unhealthy limbs. The hazardous limbs are best removed by selective pruning instead of topping.
Removing much of the tree canopy upsets the crown-to-root ratio and seriously affects the tree’s food supply. A 20-year-old tree has developed 20 years’ worth of leaf surface area. This leaf surface is needed to manufacture sufficient food to feed and support 20 years’ worth of branches, trunks, and roots. Topping not only cuts off a major portion of the tree’s food-making potential; it also severely depletes the tree’s stored reserves. It is an open invitation for the tree’s slow starvation.
Large branch stubs left from topping seldom close or callus. Nutrients are no longer transported to the large stubs and that part of the tree becomes unable to seal off the injury. This leaves the stubs vulnerable to insect invasion and fungal decay. Once decay has begun in a branch stub, it may spread into the main trunk, ultimately killing the tree.
Topping stimulates the regrowth of dense upright branches just below the pruning cut. These new shoots, referred to as “suckers” or “water sprouts” are not as structurally sound as are the naturally occurring branches. The water sprouts often consist of succulent growth which is more susceptible to diseases and herbivorous insects (such as aphids and caterpillars).
Since water sprout regrowth is generally rapid and vigorous, a topped tree often will grow back to its original height faster and denser than a tree that has been properly pruned or thinned. This makes topping, at best, only a temporary solution to oversized trees.
(Referenced from Tree Maintenance by Dr. P. P. Pirone)*
City of Huntsville Ordinance on Removal of Tree Debris by Licensed Contractors
Sec. 22-79. Bulky waste, white goods and loose yard material.
(a) All bulky waste, white goods or loose yard waste to be removed by the sanitation division from private residences shall be placed either between the sidewalk and curb or in an accessible place approved by the sanitation division. Tree limbs shall be cut in lengths not exceeding five feet in length, with protruding branches trimmed. All such waste shall be placed in an orderly, neat manner adjacent to that portion of the street right-of-way normally used by vehicles so as not to obstruct sidewalks or the flow of traffic or water. All bulky waste, white goods and loose yard waste shall be collected weekly. All such waste not removed by the city must be delivered by the owner to an authorized receiving facility.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any tree removal contractor, licensed or otherwise, to leave or deposit tree or limb removal debris at curbside for the city to remove. All contractors doing business in the city shall collect and remove or arrange for the collection and removal of tree or limb removal debris to a facility permitted by ADEM to accept this type of waste, whether such facility is operated by the city or privately.
(c) It shall be unlawful to place for removal bulky waste, white goods or loose yard waste between utility poles and utility pole support cables, under trees, under low utility wires; around, adjacent to, or on top of fire hydrants; or adjacent to fences or buildings.
(Ord. No. 94-236, 5(20-279), 4-21-1994; Ord. No. 97-817, 13, 12-11-1997)