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8 tips to take care of your trees

Last modified: 2019-08-05 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Appreciated for both their majestic appearance as well as their contribution to the ecosystem, trees need a rigorous amount of care to stay healthy and age well. Regardless of the type, whether cedar, maple or poplar, none live outside of this rule. But how can you best care for your trees?

How to care for trees: why prune?

The pruning of a tree, the partial or total cutting of its branches, is an essential task to the well being of the tree. Pruning can also happen as a result of safety and can prevent branches from touching electrical wires. But of course, this is done to keep them healthy as well. More precisely, here are the guidelines to follow in this area.

1- Reduce the density of foliage

backyard with trees

First, you should know that a tree with extremely condensed branches does not allow for a sufficient amount of air to pass through the leaves. In this case, your foliage will be susceptible to both insects and fungi. This situation should be remedied by removing the excess of branches that are preventing a good level of air circulation.

Also, bear in mind that pruning a tree is good for its growth and therefore ensures that it maintains a strong structure that can hold up against all of the external elements. 

2- Remove water sprouts and suckers

If you’re not an expert in arboriculture, then you may be puzzled by our recommendation. To better explain what we mean by this, let us specify that water sprouts and suckers are growths. More precisely, water sprouts are growths that occur on branches that push on both sides of a tree’s trunk, whereas suckers (or rejects) are those who push at the ground level.

Although it’s tempting to think that the removal of these growths is a task usually performed for aesthetic purposes, we should mention that the problem runs deeper. Indeed, these growths absorb a large amount of sap, which unnecessarily diverts it from the tree and thus, prevents it from taking advantage of it.

3- Avoid stripping your tree

Forest in a backyard

Caring for your tree also means respecting certain guidelines when it comes to pruning them. As a first step, it’s important to note that you should never cut more than 30% of the area of your tree in one sitting. This is because it will create an imbalance between the number of branches and the amount of sap produced by the tree. When the sap production is too high compared to the number of branches, this will lead to the formation of the growths mentioned in the above paragraph.

4- Make the right cuts

Cutting a branch off a tree is a big deal, and should not be taken lightly. The wrong cut can have a detrimental effect on both the appearance of the tree and its health. In this regard, remember that it’s strongly recommended to cut branches at the level of the bead (at the junction between the branch and the trunk) while avoiding to cut less than two or three centimetres from the trunk. Otherwise, you will deprive the tree of its sap, which is to say the tip that will allow the branch to grow again.

In the event that the branch cut is large, proceed with these three steps. The first is to make a cut at 50cm, a second under the bead 2cm deep and finally a third just above. Following these precautions will help to make a clean cut and facilitate the healing process. As a result, the speed with which this process will proceed will reduce the likelihood that insects will find their way through this entryway, and cause irreversible damage. 

5- Naturally prune your trees

While a ball-shaped tree may look nice to those who like a defined shape, be aware that the size of a tree in an unnatural shape can potentially create a disproportion that will lead to the formation of growths, as we’ve already mentioned. 

6- Let wounds heal on their own

Shed and trees

Although this was common practice in the past and even nowadays, applying tar to a tree wound is a practice that must be avoided. Pruning may even have a detrimental effect on slowing down healing, which is clearly counterproductive. It is, therefore, best to let nature run its course, and allow the tree to heal its wounds at its own pace. 

7- Use guardians in moderation

When planting a tree, it is often recommended that you support it using a guardian. Although this may initially give the young tree the chance to root in the soil, you should know that a tree growing without a guardian will develop a network of roots that are much larger, as well as a stronger trunk. Indeed, a trunk that moves according to the elements is strengthened by itself. Note that the use of a guardian should be limited to the first year of life of a tree. 

8- Call an expert

Your tree is big, but you don't have a green thumb or are uncertain about your ability to prune the tree properly? Ask an expert to prune your tree. In doing this, you’ll be assured that the work will be done right and you can enjoy the beauty of a healthy tree for many years to come. 

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