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Re: Tree Training for Tree Health.doc

Title: The most important part of tree care is the prevention of damage to the tree
Very timely, indeed!   I planted a Sunburst Locust last year in the parking strip out in the front.  This year, it has developed one of those co-cominant leaders and I have observed that there is lots of new growth there.  I considered removing about half of it, but in the last few days have started thinking that the best way to deal with this limb was to cut it off completely, at the trunk.  It's is rare, but this time, it appears that I intuitively was coming to the correct conclusion what to do with trimming a tree!   Another 100 years and I'll start answering ALL of the questions right...! 
Thanks, Dan! 
Andrew Lietzow
The Emerging Hostaholic
----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Nelson
Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2000 5:41 PM
Subject: Tree Training for Tree Health.doc

Here's an article I wrote for one of our local newspapers on tree care. I hope you find it interesting.

Tree Training for Tree Health


The most important part of tree care is the prevention of damage to the tree. Trees have evolved in forests growing with other trees nearby and usually with only one main trunk and a canopy of leaves at the very top. This growth habit is fine for trees that grow in forest. In the landscape  trees are planted in open spaces which promotes the growth of large lower limbs.


These large lower limbs cause several problems for the tree:


1)The first problem is these trees grow large co-dominant leaders. These large co-dominant leaders are prone to breaking in ice and wind storms. These large leaders grow in such a fashion that they apply large amounts of mechanical force at the point where they fasten to the main tree trunk. When these large limbs fail at the main trunk permanent damage is done to the tree because the tree has no way to prevent decay organisms from entering. Eventually decay will weaken the main trunk to the point that the whole tree presents a hazard and has to be removed.


2) The second problem occurs as the tree ages and the canopy is too low in the yard and these large co-dominant limbs need to be removed. When these large co-dominant limbs are removed often the trunk of the tree will partially die below where the removal cut was made. This is because the vascular system of the tree runs from the limb through the trunk to the root system. When the limb is removed the rest of it’s connected vascular system dies. This kind of decay can happen in just a few years and can result in a hazardous tree prone to trunk failure.


3) The third problem is all of the energy the tree has put into growing these large leaders that are being removed. If the tree had been trained by pruning correctly in the first place a lot of this energy would have been directed to the growth of limbs that would permanently  stay on the tree. This would result is a larger and healthier tree in the landscape in a shorter time.


The training of a tree in the landscape to reach a mature form takes from 20 to 25 years. During this time pruning cuts need to be made to reduce the size and subordinate competing co-dominate stems. If this is not done the tree will develop poor structure that can not be corrected in it’s adult life without causing considerable damage.


This long term approach to tree pruning results in much healthier and better appearing trees that are less likely to fail during wind and ice storms. By properly training a tree in it’s youth we are mimicking the growth habit it would have in it’s natural habitat, the forest. This is how trees have evolved. Working with the tree’s nature rather than against it we can allow a tree to fulfill it’s genetic potential in our landscapes.


Dan Nelson

I.S.A Certified Arborist

Sussex Tree Inc.

20346 Nelson Dr.

Bridgeville DE 19933


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