If you’re a homeowner, you may have a variety of trees dotting your landscape providing shade, serving as habitats for wildlife, and giving your property visual aesthetic all year long. While you may not have given much thought to caring for these natural beauties, pruning is vital to their overall health — promoting proper growth, improving structural integrity, and even mitigating potential safety hazards.
Caring for your trees may sound like a lot of work, but when it’s part of your annual home maintenance, it doesn’t have to be a big undertaking.
Why Prune Your Trees?
The benefits of tree pruning are numerous, but there are several reasons to keep it on your annual list of property maintenance tasks.
Pruning Promotes Healthy Growth Habits
Tree pruning is often thought of as a way to keep your trees pretty and shapely. And while properly pruned trees do look great in your landscape, pruning has a much greater importance than mere aesthetics; it has a significant role in the overall health of your trees.
Pruning stimulates new growth and helps develop better growth habits. By removing dead or diseased branches, you can prevent the spread of diseases and pests. In addition, properly pruned trees will have increased airflow within the canopy to reduce the risk of fungal infections.
Pruning Helps Control the Size and Shape of Trees and Reduces Interference
While you may not have had the benefit of choosing where a tree was planted related to other structures and utilities, pruning can help control the size and shape of a tree to make it suitable for its location. This is especially important in landscapes where space constraints may require tree size management.
Trees growing near utility lines need regular pruning to prevent interference with utilities, particularly during heavy winds and rain common in the Midwest. Crown reduction is often the best way to maintain clearance from these power lines, rather than “carving out” or “topping,” the common but often detrimental practice of removing the upper portion of a tree to reduce its height or to reduce its potential for storm damage.
In addition to helping keep your tree the right size for its location, properly reducing the crown will allow more sunlight to reach the ground beneath the tree, promoting the growth of grass or other plants on your property while still providing adequate shade. It also allows for better air circulation, which reduces the risk of fungal infections and the likelihood of branches rubbing against one other and creating weak points.
Pruning Promotes Safety
Fallen tree limbs can cause expensive property damage and create dangerous situations for people, property, and structures, especially during severe weather when these limbs are likely to fall. Regular inspections and pruning eliminates weak or overgrown limbs to create a well-balanced structure.
The Best Time to Prune
The timing of pruning may vary based on the tree’s species, age, and unique growth characteristics.
For most trees in Missouri, late fall to early spring is the typical dormant season, which is the ideal time to prune. During this period, trees are less vulnerable to disease, and the absence of leaves allows for a better view of the tree’s structure. For trees prone to sap bleeding, such as maples and birches, late winter or early spring — before they leaf out — is the best time to prune to reduce excessive sap flow.
Pruning tailored to the needs of your trees and property will allow you to enjoy beautiful, thriving trees for many years to come. Whether you just need a few branches addressed or a complete crown cleaning and reduction, a certified arborist can help you determine what each of your trees need. Speak with an ISA-certified arborist at Craig’s Tree Service to determine the pruning needs for your trees.