Pruning Shade Trees: The Who, What, Where, When, and How

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

trees causing shade on lawnIf you have a shade tree on your property that you think may require some tree trimming (or pruning, more accurately), then you might be wondering how to get the process started. You may be worried it’s a chore that is bigger than you can handle—or may be unsafe for you to attempt. Even if it’s a smaller tree, you might be worried you’ll do the work incorrectly and ruin the tree.

That’s why you might be looking into a professional.

Of course, you want to find a tree care company that will perform the work properly with the skills and the know-how for pruning shade trees the right way. After all, you don’t want your tree to fail at the hands of someone else, either.

To give you some idea of what to expect when it comes to pruning shade trees, we’ve rounded up all the basics. This should give you a good understanding of what’s involved so that you can find the right tree service for the work.

The “What” of Pruning Shade Trees

You already know which trees on your property are your shade trees. They’re your large, integral trees and the ones that provide you with that valued shade.

For a lot of homeowners in the Lehigh Valley, their shade trees include varieties of Oak and Maple trees. Of course, these large trees are also the ones that can do a lot of damage if they were to have a limb or section of them fail and fall. They can cause serious injury or property damage due to their massive size. This is why pruning shade trees properly is so critical. It’s more than a matter of aesthetics since improper pruning can actually lead to a decline in health and potential for liability.tree with broken branch needs to be pruned

In terms of what kind of pruning is typically performed on a shade tree, in most cases, it is a combination of crown cleaning and crown thinning. With crown cleaning, a professional is identifying the dead, dying, or diseased wood and removing it in an effort to improve the health of the tree. Crown thinning goes a step farther than just removing the weakened limbs and also includes removal of live limbs in an effort to reduce the weight of the tree and help wind and sunlight filter through it better.

You might be surprised to learn that proper pruning of a shade tree is actually highly unnoticeable. Only once you stand directly under its canopy might you notice a bit more sunlight filtering through. When performed correctly, you certainly aren’t going to lose the shade benefits of your tree. And proper tree pruning will do amazing things for your tree’s overall health and performance.

The “Where” of Pruning Shade Trees

When it comes to pruning shade trees, the location of the cuts being made is a critical factor. This is a factor important with all trees but because of the value of shade trees as well as their size (and therefore seriousness if something should go wrong), it’s easy to argue that it’s even more critical with them.

A Certified Arborist should perform a full assessment of the tree and identify the weak points, areas of improper branch attachment, and areas that have infection and disease. Oftentimes, these are areas you cannot see from the ground.

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The “When” of Pruning Shade Trees

When to prune trees is an important factor to consider as well. Most shade trees are receiving crown cleaning, a service that is needed every 2 to 5 years, depending upon the exact species and its location on the property. If we are also performing crown thinning (which would be done at the same time as cleaning), that service is performed approximately every 3 to 7 years, as needed.Arborist pruning shade tree

In terms of the best time to prune, pruning can generally be performed year-round, even in the winter. Of course, some species may have small windows in which pruning is not ideal. A Certified Arborist can determine when is best for your trees to be pruned.

As far as the age of the tree, starting as early as possible is ideal. Pruning young shade trees will give you a better chance of fixing problems while they are small rather than waiting until they become big ones. It’s also important to note that periodic pruning will actually save you money in the long run. Not only will it help keep your trees in optimal health but the pruning will get easier over time and be a smaller undertaking if you keep up with it.

The “How” of Pruning Shade Trees

Arborist inspecting tree before pruningHow a shade tree is pruned is very important to the overall success of the pruning. It’s so important that a Certified Arborist is the one identifying weakened wood and making the decision in terms of where to cut.

We have seen crown thinning, in which live wood is also being removed, performed improperly and this can be detrimental to the overall health of the tree. When trying to reduce the weight of the limb, it’s really important to perform this at the outer one-third of the branch. But a lot of tree workers do the complete opposite and remove all live growth from inside of the tree, off of the main trunk. This type of improper pruning is called “Lion-Tailing” because of the look it creates, puts the tree in a state of shock and it will respond poorly as a result.

The “Who” of Pruning Shade Trees

There may be a lot more involved in pruning shade trees than you realized and that makes it important to hire the right company for the job. Hiring a tree care company that employs Certified Arborists will help ensure that the work gets done right.

Joshua Tree service truck in Allentown, PAIt’s important to recognize that not all tree services are the same. For one, tree service companies don’t always insist on extensive training and education but at Joshua Tree, we believe that know-how is critical when performing services as vital as tree pruning.

That’s why we have 7 ISA Certified Arborists (and more taking the test at the time this was written). This is important as a Certified Arborist is trained to be able to identify and diagnose problems. They’re the ideal professional to seek out weaknesses in your tree and make critical decisions about what should be done.

Your shade trees are incredibly valuable to you and by choosing the right tree service, you can have the peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of the right way. That will protect your investment and allow you to enjoy your shade trees for many years to come.

Are you ready to work with a tree service in Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA that you can feel confident will prune your shade trees properly? Get in touch with us to get some free expert advice and get a quote. By choosing wisely you’ll have peace of mind your trees are in good hands.

Signs that you need tree pruning by a tree service in Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA

Image Sources: broken tree branch

Joshua Malik

Written by Joshua Malik

With an intense passion for arboriculture and lawn care, founder Joshua Malik brings to Joshua Tree over 20 years of experience in the tree and lawn care industry. And he expects the same passion in his team by employing representatives and field personnel who have achieved and maintained proper industry credentials to ensure clients benefit through best practices.