Pruning Trees by Byron Chitwood
There are three reasons for pruning landscape trees. The first is for the health of the tree. Both diseases and insects contribute to the decline of a tree. If damage by one or both of these, the prudent thing to do is remove the diseased or insect infested limbs. Also as we found out in the most recent ice storm, nature does a lot of trimming of trees with results that are not exactly what we would plan. Some of the fallen or hanging limbs have split the remainder of the limb that is still attached to the tree. These limbs need to be cut back below the split or peeled bark.
Another reason for pruning trees is to prevent hazard to people, buildings or other trees, shrubs and plants. Some trees such as Bradford pears grow very rapidly under good growing conditions. The limbs growing from the trunk area become long and heavy and can eventually break under their own weight. Use your own judgment on when to prune trees with large and long overhangs. There was a Bradford pear tree in our yard that shed a large limb for no other reason than it was too heavy to support itself. This one crashed on a bench that some friends and we had been sitting on a few hours before. The fallen limb was large enough to have severely injured someone had they been there at that time. Several days later, another limb from the same tree came crashing down on our roof which resulted in several thousand dollars damage. The Bradford pear tree had many more limbs about the same size so the prudent thing to do was permanently prune the entire tree at ground level.
One more reason to prune trees is to achieve a more pleasant form. For instance if a tree is growing in with an unbalanced posture, some trimming might be in order to give it a better shape. Some trees will have limbs that are too close to the ground. These limbs can cut off a certain amount of light to the turf and also will sweep and sway in the wind wiping out the plants growing directly under. Cut limbs like this close to the trunk. There will be a collar tissue around the base of the limb. Make the final cut just above the collar and paint the freshly cut area with a pruning paint or one with a latex base.
There are plenty of good arborists who will gladly give you a quote and suggestions on your tree pruning needs. Most of them are very organized and professional in their work. Some of your neighbors might have used their services and will be glad to give a recommendation. Come to think of it, that might be the least expensive way to prune trees, especially if you have to stand on your tiptoes on top of a wobbly 12 foot step ladder with a pole chainsaw that is six inches short of being able to reach and saw off a branch that is destined to fall on your head. Good luck on your way down and happy landing.