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Tree Pruning in Winnipeg

Do you have mature trees on your property crowding together? Would you like increase the amount of light getting through to your plants and shrubs? Whatever your reasons for pruning, trust in the professionals at Parkland Tree Care in Winnipeg to handle them promptly and professionally—pruning is our speciality after all!

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Reasons for Pruning

Pruning is one of the most common tree care operations and provides many benefits to the trees and shrubs around your property. Some of the reasons to prune your trees and shrubs include:

  • Removal of dead, dying, diseased and weak branches to reduce sites for decay and disease or insect attack
  • Removal of hazardous limbs
  • Increase light penetration and air flow through the canopy
  • Reduced risk of storm damage
  • Rejuvenate old fruit trees
  • Promote flowering
  • Training of young trees
  • Improves natural form and appearance

Pruning Mature Trees

Mature tree pruning should always be focused on removing the smallest branches possible. This may be more labour intensive as you may have to make many smaller cuts rather than one large cut. Large branches should only be removed for specific reasons and those reasons should be explained to you prior to the branches being removed. Large branches which are removed can leave an ugly scar on the tree which will never be able to grow over. Note that trees do not heal themselves; they can only hide their wounds and hopefully seal them off from decay. If the wound is too large this sealing cannot happen.

Crown clean-up is a basic level of pruning and the most common type of pruning we undertake. It involves the removal of branches that are dead, dying, diseased, broken, weakly attached, crossing or rubbing.

Crown thinning is another term we may use to describe pruning that includes all of the practices involved in a crown clean up. Thinning however will also include the selective removal of additional branches to increase branch spacing in order to facilitate more light and air movement. Plus, crown thinning also reduces the weight on heavy branches.

Crown raising involves the selective removal of lower limbs on the trunk in order to increase the clearance of the crown over the landscape, house, wires, walkways, driveways, etc. It may also improve the view of a river or landscape.

Crown reduction is pruning to decrease the size of a tree where it may conflict with an object. It can be done with fruit trees to reduce the size of the tree. It can also be done to a branch that has gotten over extended and is at risk of breaking due to its weight. Branches that are removed are cut back to an adequately sized lateral branch of at least 1/3 the size of the main branch you are cutting. Parkland Tree Care does not commonly perform this kind of pruning without much consulting the tree owner. We do not like the branch structure that results especially if it is on a fruit tree. However, crown reduction pruning is still a much better practice then tree topping.

Pruning Young Trees

It is important to start the process of developing good branch structure early in the life of a tree. If a tree is properly pruned when young it will require less corrective pruning when mature. What's more, proper pruning will enhance the natural beauty and strength of the tree. The tree in the picture accompanying this article should have been pruned when it was young. It now has a co-dominant leader which is a weak attachment point for two large trunks. At this point nothing can be done except to install a cable and reduce or significantly thin this trunk.

ash tree pruning
  • Pruning cuts are less damaging to a tree when they are smaller cuts made when the tree is young. If a branch that should be cut is allowed to mature, the will result be a larger wound that will not easily close.
  • Every cut on a young tree has the potential to have significant effect on the trees future structure and health. Be careful which branches you remove.
  • Pruning of young trees should wait until the tree has been established for 2-3 years. If pruning is necessary only corrective pruning of broken or diseased branches should be undertaken.
  • There is a commonly held belief that a newly planted or transplanted tree should have 1/3 of its branches reduced at the time of planting. This is false and should not be done. The trees leaves provide the tree with the ability to manufacture food. If a tree is pruned back at planting it has less ability to produce food and therefore less ability to grow and develop proper root structure.

Timing of Pruning

Routine removal of dead, dying, diseased and broken branches can be done at almost any time of the year with a few exceptions:

  • American & Siberian elm trees can only be pruned between August 1 and March 31 unless the tree has sustained significant storm damage.
  • Schubert chokecherry trees should be pruned in the dormant season due to the risk of infection by black knot disease.
  • Fruit trees are best pruned during the dormant season if possible unless the tree has storm damage or is infected with fire blight disease.
  • Heavy pruning just after the spring growth flush should be avoided as the tree has expended a lot of energy producing this early season growth.
  • Birch and maple trees may bleed sap if pruned at certain periods in spring. While this bleeding is unsightly, it is not harmful to the tree. If the tree is over a deck, car, hot tub, etc. you may want to wait until the sap stops flowing before the tree is pruned.

Tree Climbing

We prefer to work in the tree using a rope and climbing saddle. This allows us to readily access and inspect all parts of the tree. Climbing spurs are never used in a tree when pruning or performing any service other than tree removal.

Wound Dressings

Wound dressings were once very common as they were thought to reduce the potential for decay and protect from insects and diseases. Research has shown wound dressings do not deliver what they promise. Currently we do not recommend their use. One exception might be when performing summer pruning on a fruit tree infected with fire blight bacterial disease. A non-toxic paste or paint can be used to help reduce the potential spread of this disease to healthy branches of the tree. Pruning paints made of toxic materials like petroleum by-products should never be used. Wood preservative products should also never be used on a tree.

Why You Shouldn't Top Your Tree

Tree topping is one of the most damaging practices that can be undertaken under the guise of tree care. It is still common for people to ask us to top a tree. We do not recommend it and we will not perform this kind of service. We will rather walk away from the job then top a tree.

Tree topping will create a very ugly tree. Trees that are allowed to grow into a natural form are inherently very beautiful—trees that are topped look nothing like the way they were intended to. Topped trees never fully regain their natural form. A topped tree also suffers from a shortened life span.

Tree topping is the indiscriminate cutting back of a tree to a point at which there are no lateral branches to assume the role of branch leader. The result is a distressed tree. Sometimes all the leaf material is removed from the tree which results in the tree starving for energy/food. After topping, the tree initiates survival mechanisms which results in the production of many shoots from dormant buds. The tree needs leaves to produce food so it must start to produce food for itself or it will die. If the tree is already weak and then it is topped, it might not have the stored energy reserves to produce this extra growth and it may die. If it does survive, the branches that result from these dormant buds are not strongly attached to the tree and are prone to breakage.

Topping of some trees—especially fruit trees—can result in sun burned bark. This is commonly a problem on smooth barked trees. Vertical splits in the bark and or dead sunken areas in the bark on the west and south side of the tree are visual symptoms of this. Eventually the tree will exhibit branch die back on that side of the crown. These damaged sites are susceptible to fire blight and other diseases.
The reason topping is so bad is that when you make normal pruning cuts you are making the cut at a very specific location just beyond the branch collar. When cuts are made here the tree will more quickly be able to seal the wound. When a topping cut is made it is at a point where the tree responds very slowly to producing the wound wood necessary to seal over the cut. As a result, topped trees usually have a significant decay problem.

One of the most common reasons for requesting tree topping that we hear is the tree owner wants to control the size of the tree and make it less hazardous. In fact, a topped tree will eventually become more hazardous than if it had been left alone. A topped tree will also cost more in the long run as it will need frequent pruning and branch removals to remove hazardous branches. A topped tree is also a liability and will reduce the property values because of its hazard and unsightliness.

For more information on any of our services or if you would like to schedule an appointment to have your trees pruned please contact us.

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