Tuesday 31 January 2012

The Dual Nature of Trees

The concept that trees exist in two realms, one biological, and the second one the structural is not new. In nature it is not unusual to see a tree that is growing vigorously, yet is in danger of crashing to the ground because its structural stability has been compromised. Conversely you can see trees that are on their last legs biologically, but they are structurally solid.

Trees are long lived organisms that are completely immobile in their environment. As the environment changes trees adapt, grow, decline and eventually die. This can take place over a matter of years or centuries. We, as stewards of the trees environment, can do a lot to help balance the equation and extend the life of these immobile giants.

Construction and grade changes play a major factor in the decline of many trees. If you are contemplating construction, from a simple fence, to the largest additions, contact your Arborist to discuss the building plans before you break ground. A preservation plan is always simpler and more effective than a recovery plan. Root damage is the most common effect of construction and is difficult and time consuming to correct. While you are working improve the root condition of a construction damaged tree, you must also consider insects, diseases. These secondary pathogens will be drawn to stressed trees. The presence of human activity always has a stressful impact on tree growth and survival.

Trees grown in forests have very different growth conditions, light, soil moisture, nutrient availability, than trees grown in open areas like yards and city parks. Trees have evolved to take advantage of the benefits of increased light and many will grow wide broad crowns that may lead to instability. Instability can lead to wind throw or sudden branch drop. If you examine trees after a major ice or wind storm these over extended branches may be the ones most damaged

Pruning, crown reduction, and thinning can carefully reduce the size of a tree. Careful pruning will extend the life of a tree in open areas and greatly reduced spaces. Tree pruning is an art that is backed up by science. Knowing when to prune and how much is a skill that experienced arborists train for years to develop. Knowing when and what not to prune is also vital to the outcome of any pruning project. Proper pruning can extend the lives of trees and help the balance between biology and structural stability. I.S.A Certified Arborists are constantly updated on the latest pruning methods backed up by scientific research on tree wound response. I.S.A. Certified arborists have up to date information on tree preservation. Contact your I.S.A. Certified Arborist to plan and execute your next pruning project.