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Trimming a Tree up


       Trimming a Tree up is a common request heard by Olson Tree Care in Des Moines, Iowa. This request implies a negative, that the tree is a nuisance. 

       While many love trees, it is often conditional on them conforming to humans. Failure for a Tree to conform means death! 

       Understanding if your tree needs pruned is required, as it is difficult to get a positive from a negative.

       Five positives that are more important than 1 negative.

       1. Lower branches assist in uptake and increase the health of the crown.

       2. Lower branches buffer wind reducing likelihood of tree cracks in many trees.

       3. Lower branches shade the root system reducing moisture evaporation in the topsoil.

       4. Lower branches protect the trunk of thin barked trees from sun scalding.

       5. Lower branches (with the exception of sun starved areas) are higher in photosynthate production.

       6. Lower branches help with the effects of Tree Drought.

        Full removal of lower branches is a thumbs down for ISA Certified Des Moines Arborists in most cases. The appropriate course of action is lower thinning cuts to each branch while retaining the health of that branch. (limit elongation)

       It is a difficult battle for Tree Services as many perceive value in Tree Pruning Techniques. Often without proper Consultation a Tree Owner may be increasing costs down the line.

Disfigured tree with poor health

Trimming a Tree Up

A negative in most cases

Lower Branch Removal Alternatives.


       Decades of society “trimming trees up” (combined with very little pushback from Tree Services) has left a hole when it comes to alternative pruning methods to Lower Branch Removal.

What are some alternatives?

       1. Directional training.

       - This pruning technique combines lower thinning cuts to the offending branch with lower thinning cuts to the branches in the way of upward and sunward growth. (Photo and Geo Tropism) This technique reduces elongation of lower branches due to competition.

       2. Branch Reduction.

       - Reduction cuts can be a great long term solution (provided the branch has not been lions-tailed). Positive lower growth is to be enhanced while elongation of the overall branch is reduced. Aggressive cutting back to the next viable lateral as a form of reduction is not a good Arborist practice. The goal should be specific end reduction cuts creating density.

       3. Growth Regulation.

       - Growth regulators are gaining traction on trees in tight spaces. The reduction of inter-nodal length combined with an increase in the number of buds is an attractive option. Two detractors may be the limited research on tree health decades after regulation and timely application.

       4. Do nothing at all. 

       - Complications may include insurance, risk, damage and reduced ability to implement a plan of action based on health, age or size. It is recommended in both residential and commercial applications to have a Des Moines Arborist perform a Tree Health Evaluation of Consultation to determine the best course of action.

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