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The Denver Tree Pros Debunk the Most Common Tree Pruning and Trimming Myths


August 5, 2016

With so much information in the world these days, it is hard for homeowners to figure out what is true and what is not – especially in the complicated industry of tree care. Most homeowners love their trees, but know little about how to care for them. Much of what you may have heard about tree care is incorrect. There are a lot of unsafe practices and old wives' tales out there that may lead you to do the wrong thing, or hire the wrong person to take care of your trees. Here at American Arbor Care, we don't want you to be fooled by tree care myths. Instead, read on to protect yourself and your landscaping by learning about the myths behind pruning and trimming your trees.

Myth #1:  Pruning trees and shrubs invigorates them
Progressive techniques can maximize the benefits of pruning while minimizing the negative impacts. Conversely, improper or severe pruning maximizes the negative impacts while realizing very little, if any, of the benefits of pruning. Severe pruning often results in the stimulation of dense, vigorous growth. However, this growth consumes a great amount of the tree’s energy, weakening its natural defenses. While the benefits of pruning are many, there will be some negative impact from the loss of foliage. Reduction of the foliage mass means a reduction in the tree’s capacity to photosynthesize, and thus reduces the energy available for all its life processes.

Myth #2:  Topping (the removal of the upper portion of a main stem) is good for a tree
Regardless of technique, topping is always a serious injury to the tree and usually results in serious, long-term structural consequences. A few of the negative impacts of topping:
  • Creates a denser foliage crown through rapid re-growth that then requires frequent maintenance for re-topping or restructuring.
  • Serious decay at the topping cut and poorly attached re-growth rapidly resulting in increased hazard potential.
  • Reduction of the tree’s energy producing capacity and thus its ability to resist insect and disease problems.
Myth #3:  Filling cavities in trees with concrete strengthens them and helps them heal
Generally, proper management of tree cavities is best left to the tree itself, because filling tree cavities does not increase structural strength. It may actually cause harm and increase decay.

Myth #4:  Making pruning cuts close to the trunk or parent limb will help the tree heal faster
To minimize decay and promote closing of wounds, do not penetrate the tree trunk but retain the branch collar (the slightly raised areas surrounding the base of most branches). Trees do not actually heal, in that they do not replace lost tissue, but only cover injuries with new layers of wood.

Myth #5:  Installing cables, bolts or other hardware will render a hazardous limb or tree safe.
The installation of cables, bolts, and other hardware in trees is intended to reduce potential hazards only and does not permanently remedy structural weaknesses – and is not a guarantee against failure. Sometimes, to preserve a substantial limb, trunk, or the entire tree, it becomes necessary to provide additional support through the installation of hardware, but such hardware must also be inspected periodically and adjusted or replaced as necessary.

Damage to trees is only occasionally intentional; more often it's negligence – or even ignorance and belief of such myths as these. Need help deciding on the best approach to your tree care? Our arborist will visit and assess your property for your unique trimming and pruning needs. Give us a call today: 303-639-8584.