Pruning/Trimming your tree every 3-5 years is the general advice most arborist give; however, how often you need to trim your trees can vary based on species, age, environmental factors, and aesthetic preference. The best way to know if your tree is due for some pruning is to take a close look at your tree and its branches. Read on to learn the what signs to look for that indicate your tree needs pruning.
Broken or limp tree branches are often caused by heavy snow or wind. They are hazardous, as they are at high risk of falling and injuring people or animals, and should be removed as soon as possible. Since branches typically break during storms it’s a good idea to give your tree a close inspection after a big storm and even have an arborist come out and evaluate the tree if you are unsure of its health.
2. Crossing Branches
Crossing branches can occur when a tree hasn’t been trimmed in a while. When branches cross they touch and rub against each other. This damages the exterior bark and exposes the interior of the branch. These wounds are targets for insects, diseases, and fungi. Once infection or infestation begins in that branch it can spread to other parts of the tree causing decay. If you see crossing branches in your tree it’s important to get them trimmed out asap before too much damage occurs.
Stray branches of deadwood are common in trees but if you start to see large amounts of deadwood or clusters of deadwood it’s a sign your tree needs to be trimmed.
In summer it can be easy to spot deadwood because these branches will not have any leaves or buds on them. In the winter or early spring they can be harder to spot for many homeowners. To identify deadwood when leaves aren’t on the tree, look for branches that are a different color or texture than the rest of the live branches. If you can reach the branches in question gently try bending them. Deadwood is brittle and will typically break when bent. Deadwood is a hazard and should be removed as soon as possible.
4. Branch Density
Airflow in the canopy of a tree is essential to keep the tree healthy and prevent fungal diseases. If the tree’s canopy becomes too dense this airflow doesn’t occur and leaves will end up staying wet days after rain which can leading to fungal diseases. In dense canopies branches are also more likely to catch the wind and become hazardous during storms. A good rule of thumb to see if your canopy is too dense is whether or not you can see through it when it’s fully leafed out in the summer. If you can not see parts of the sky through your tree’s canopy it’s too dense.
5. Encroaching Branches
Trees have a mind of their own and often have wandering branches that don’t respect the boundaries of our homes and electrical lines. Tree placed relatively close to homes at some point will have branches that start to encroach on power lines and surrounding structures. These encroaching branches can easily take out power lines during storms and can damage shingles and siding. The good thing is that these branches can easily be trimmed back away from the structure/power line. On top of pruning, tree growth regulator can be used to slow the tree’s growth and prevent the issue from happening again in the future.
6. Misshapen Tree
When not trimmed regularly, trees may grow in odd ways that can become dangerous. Whether it’s due to human or environmental factors, trees can become misshapen which causes an issue with weight distribution. Incorrect weight distribution in a tree can lead to limbs breaking under the weight of the tree, cracks in the trunk, and other issues that could lead to injury or property damage. If you’re tree has begun growing in an odd direction or is starting to lean it may be a sign it needs pruning to redistribute the tree’s weight.
If your tree is showing any of the signs above, schedule a pruning consultation with one of our arborists by calling 703-573-3029 or booking online.