What you need to know
One of the most frequently asked questions a certified arborist gets is, “When should I have my trees pruned?” Although all varieties of trees are different, as a general rule, trees should be pruned at a very early age (developmental pruning),I recommend to have your trees evaluated by a certified arborist annually then your arborist will let you know if anything needs to be done now or if it can wait .
On the coast of central Florida, in places like St Pete, Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park, our warm weather allows us to prune most trees at any time of year as long as proper pruning guidlines are followed. However, cold sensitive trees, flowering or fruit bearing trees could be sensitive as to what time of year they are pruned.
You know it’s time to prune your trees when any of the following conditions exist:
- Dead or Diseased Branches – When one or more branches appear to be dead or diseased, your tree needs to be pruned. This is particularly important if the tree is close to people or buildings as dead or diseased branches are much more likely to fall and cause damage. These problem branches are also more likely to harbor insects and disease, which could spread to other parts of the tree.
- Visibility Problems – Sometimes lower branches can restrict visibility for motorists, causing unsafe conditions. Although safety should be your main concern, trim back only the branches that are necessary to avoid causing harm to your trees.
- Trees Restricting Sunlight – One of the many benefits to having mature trees is that they add shade to our property. However, they can also restrict sunlight from entering our homes and gardens and in many cases, this is not desirable. Pruning your trees can help bring the sun back into your home and property but beware I have seen many trees over thinned which will permanently damage and or destroy your trees.
- Trees Too Close To Buildings – Many people plant trees too close to their homes. Years later after the tree has matured, it can be a threat to buildings and people that are in what we refer to as the “target area.” Some of these trees are best removed before a storm hits. But proper pruning will lessen the probability of damage.
- Trees Too Close To Power Lines – Branches that strike power lines cause a number of outages every year. If you have branches that are coming too close to power lines they must be trimmed. However under no circumstances should you trim them yourself. Choose a tree service company that has vast expertise in power line clearance and uses an insulated bucket truck, specifically designed for this type of work.
- Storm Season – Florida residents that lived through the recent hurricane season know how much damage trees can cause. While pruning does not guarantee that your trees will survive a storm, it can greatly increase your trees’ odds for survival.
- Storm Damage – Hurricanes and other storms can uproot trees and break limbs. After the storm don’t fall prey to the “two guys with a chainsaw and a pickup truck” who offer to clean up your mess. Contact a tree service company with an ISA certified arborist to inspect and assess the damage to your trees.
Proper pruning can make your trees stronger and healthier, while improving the overall appearance and value of your property.
Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.
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