Pruning and Planting Through Winter – Part II (techniques and understanding)

Weeping Mulberry Hand designed over 10 years

This article will be the culmination of many years of work, learning, practice and intense reflection on tree and plant developmental. Too many article have been written about exactly what to do to maintain tree health. The issues that most of these articles are burdened with are the variables that need to be considered when identifying actual needs based on the trees and plants environments. If you have pulled up this new article, please don’t be disappointed by how I have chosen to releasing all the different pieces. The process associated with writing this article needs to be as fluid as possible, so that the language can be easily interpreted by as many people as possible. I will end this first introduction to developmental pruning and ornamental tree maintenance (tree design) as I began. I have spent many years learning and developing my approach to tree and garden maintenance and this article will be the coming together of many of my philosophies and techniques. Please be patient. I will be adding to this article (post) over the next week, until I feel it includes all you need to set realistic expectations for your own trees and

Weeping Mulberry (same tree different perspective)

December 1, 2010 Long Island New York, Suffolk County and Nassau County have shed most of their leaves (except for some of the Pear Trees, some Oaks and Sweetgums. It is time to get excited. Now that the leaves are off the trees we can go to work fixing the branching structures to fit into our man made environments.

Hydrangea- Pee Gee 10 years old (began as a 5' stick)

What makes this time of year so important to the designer and the fine tree pruner is the ability to see all the issues that can develop into future concerns (large cavities in mature trees, crossing branches that need to be removed or reduced, developmental pruning for younger trees for structural integrity and winter esthetics and crown shaping for non flowering trees). I will get you on board because the alternative is the creation of future hazards and ugly vulnerable ornamental trees. All the average person needs to remember is to look up and consider what you are walking under. What the value of safety is to you, your family, your friends and your neighbors.

Paper Bark Maple (still young in it's spot after 7 years)

You can have one simple small tree on your property or you can have an arboretum and the approach will be the same. The difference will be the amount of time and energy that goes into your review and maintenance. The great consideration for all your trees throughout the winter is when and how to manage your different trees. Large trees such as your Maples, Oaks, Gingko, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Beech, Hornbeams, Poplars, Willows, Dogwoods, Mulberries, Sassafras will need to be addressed throughout the entire winter. The first review is when all the leaves have fallen. We are looking for large hazardous dead wood and large limbs with included bark. The definition of included bark is the union of two limbs in a tree, sharing the main trunk for support instead of having their own individual relationship for greater strength. There are some trees that naturally have lots of included bark. One of these trees is the Japanese Zelkova. When looking at a Zelcova you need to consider how each branch protects the next from the wind. The Zelcova has an amazing branching dynamic that needs to be worked with conservatively so as not to compromise it’s own personal branching structure.

Paperbark Maple, a closer look

Most of the trees that are pruned throughout the winter also needs to managed so as to reduce future storm damage. Weight loads and coordination with structures and other surrounding trees. Don’t forget trees protect one another when growing together. The Wind that blows through the canopy of a tree slows down drastically when coming out the other side of that structure compared to an environment with nothing in the winds path. What this is suggesting is that when you prune one large tree you will be effecting the surrounding trees and their response to the new environment you have created. There are many things to consider before taking anything out of a large tree. The one thing most people don’t think about is how the tree will respond to the removal of it’s branches. I am not talking about the first years growth response to the pruning. I am talking about a lifetime of changed growth, and the direction and strength of those new branches. It will be the new growth that will develop to compensate for the amount of wood and lost leaves (leaf surface), that need our forethought. Knowing how a tree will respond will help determine what and how we prune.

Paperbark Maple, looking even closer

At this point I can begin to tell you what to prune and how to prune, but this topic has been written about more than enough and just confuses each reader. If you don’t have the sensitivity or patience for this pruning task, please call me or hire someone who has demonstrated the talent and professionalism to manage your trees. The value of the life surrounding your property is far beyond that which yo can imagine. Take the time to respect and maintain this value.

I can imagine I have come to the end of my readers patience. I need to end this article before it becomes any more tedious.

Many of your trees can have the hazards removed ASAP but I

recommend that the structural work be performed the last

two and a half months of the Winter (end of January to mid

March). The trees are fully dormant in the Northeast and will

have the greatest ability to heal themselves

(compartmentalization) with the new growth in the Spring-

time. The larger the cuts made into a tree the longer it will

take the tree to close itself off to future damage and decay.

Crimson King Maple, over 50 years behind this house

Best of luck with your trees and plants,

and remember to always look far enough

forward so you can see a strong and healthy future

for all your friends, including the trees.

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