How to Prune a Tree

June 12 , 2003
I have a new house and have never cared for trees before, what do I need to know?
It is best to have a professional evaluate your trees and see what recommendations are made. The following questions and answers cover some common recommendations and maintenance practices that will benefit most trees.

What are some of the benefits of maintaining my trees?
Trees in the urban/suburban landscape have traditionally been valued for their aesthetic qualities and shade they produce. Especially in settled areas trees have many other important benefits.

Trees enhance property values. Research shows that the value of your property could increase up to 25 % depending on the size, type, location and health of its trees. Mature trees are particularly valuable. Therefore, it makes sense to protect your tree investment with proper maintenance. You may wish to document the value of your trees with photos and a professional landscape appraisal for insurance and tax purposes.

Landscape trees help you save money and live more comfortably. With properly placed trees around your house, depending upon where you live, you can reduce winter heating bills up to 15%. A mature shade tree can block up to 90% of solar radiation, which could translate to a significant reduction in your home cooling cost. Trees act as windbreaks and sun screens. They reduce air pollution by producing oxygen through photosynthesis and reduce noise pollution by acting as sound barriers.

Studies show that trees have beneficial psychological effects on humans. They decrease stress, inspire minds and break emotional barriers. Around the workplace, they tend to lower absenteeism and improve productivity. Many hospitals and nursing homes have beautiful green trees around them, and evidence demonstrates that trees can speed recovery from illness and are good for your health.

Landscape appraisals can help you determine the value of your trees. A knowledgeable arborist is the best person to do appraisals. Just as a competent auto mechanic can point out needed maintenance that you might not notice, a competent, professional arborist can offer diagnosis and preventative maintenance to keep your trees in top condition.

Why should my trees be pruned?
Pruning trees, especially when younger, helps promote healthy trees with good branch architecture. Again, think of a tree in its native environment, the forest. There the tree is in stiff competition with other trees. It is forced to grow fast and upright to fill what is usually a very limited space. Trees growing in man-made conditions usually have much more space and less competition. They will spread out to form much broader trees than they would if located in the forest. The branch structure will often be inadequate if the tree is left to develop on its own. These trees can develop hazard limbs that eventually could fail leading to an early tree death.

There are many important practices that should not be ignored. Here is a list of things to look out for:

The arborist should:

  • Not leave branch stubs
  • Make few or no heading cuts
  • Not cut off the branch collar (do not make a flush cut)
  • Not top or lion's tail trees
  • Not remove more than 25% of the foliage of a single branch
  • Not remove more than 25 % of the total tree foliage in a single year
  • Not damage other parts of the tree during pruning
  • Not use wound paint

It is important to be aware of the things that can negatively affect your trees.


Santa Ynez Valley Tree Care
P.O. Box 1147, Santa Ynez, California 93460

(805) 688-5580

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