Tree growth is impacted and controlled by three general factors:
Genetic predetermination, which we’ll discuss in this post;
When we buy new trees, we often make our choice based upon genetic selection: flowers, colors, shape, bark interest. We also select trees for size, shape and shade density. All these and much more are genetic characteristics, “guaranteed ” by the nurseryman. Often, however, we ignore the full spectrum of the tree’s gene pool. For example, a person might pick a tree because it is fast growing, but ignore its shorter life span or its potential for storm damage.
One common genetic characteristic which requires corrective pruning is a “round headed” tree planted in a too small of space or planted too close to buildings, driveways or walkways. This situation is common and one must “fight the genetics” with corrective pruning so the selected tree can fit into the space.
Multi-stemmed and low-crotched trees, too, always widen as they grow. Birch, Hawthorns, Crabapples and Magnolias are several common landscape trees where corrective pruning will be required if planted too close to structures and passageways.
Top pruning is required when trees grow upon to wires, rooflines or block views.
Shade density is often a characteristic where corrective pruning is sought; however, this seldom can be done to the satisfaction of situation and without harm to the tree’s future. Concurrently, topping trees can never be justified. It is not corrective pruning; it is “tree butchery”, with only negative consequences to follow.
Fighting genetic shape and density in trees is possible with trained and knowledgeable hands, but far too often, well meaning but unskilled pruners make matters worse and shorten the life of the tree. Therefore, contacting a skilled arborist is necessary to protect your trees and your living spaces.
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It services tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.