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Pruning : River Valley edition : Saturday, 22 February 2020 23:19 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Pruning: Essential for Healthy Trees

     by Linda Pinkham

by Will Danielson

Last winter, several very large, damaged and diseased trees in our yard self-pruned a number of gigantic limbs onto our lawn and driveway. Using the driveway became risky, but even more scary was the idea of my partner Daniel in a tree with a chainsaw. Will Danielson and his crew came to the rescue to quickly preen, remove and clean up the problem.

- LP

Did you know you have thousands of dollars standing out in your yard? Most people don't think about it that way, but a large tree in your yard can cost several thousand dollars to replace unless you want to remove it and start over with a young tree and wait 20 years for it to grow up. The reason this is important is to impress that pruning is necessary to protect your investment.

Proper pruning will help preserve tree health and enhance longevity of your landscape trees. It will keep them looking more attractive, and they will be less susceptible to injury or disease.

You can prune small trees yourself, but for medium- or large-sized trees it may be wise to hire a trained tree professional. While this will have a cost, it should be considered an investment in your landscape tree assets. Without the proper equipment and skills, tree pruning can be dangerous and you may injure yourself or the tree.quiet zone

Do-It-Yourself Tips

To prune smaller trees, you should consider these points.

Use the right tools for your job. For most small trees, you will need hand pruning shears, lopping shears, and a hand pruning saw.
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Timing is important. Most pruning should be done during the winter months when the trees are dormant. If you prune during the spring, trees will bleed sap, and leave unsightly runs of the sticky substance.

Pruning wounds are best left untreated. While paints and other products are out there, they may even enhance tree decay when used.

What to Prune?

Start by removing any dead branches. Take out broken or damaged branches, and where two branches are rubbing together remove the weaker or smaller of the two. Remove suckers (new growth around the trunk coming from the ground.) Most trees have what is called a "Leader." These main branches can be multiple, and you can remove smaller or crowded leaders to enhance tree shape. Early in the tree's life cycle, all but the strongest leader should be removed.

If you are pruning lower branches, which are often large, use the three-cut method to avoid splitting. Make an undercut half way through the branch. Make another cut on the top of the limb a few inches past the undercut. Your third cut will remove the stub, leaving a small rise where the limb attached to the trunk.

General rules are that you shouldn't leave any stubs where branches were. Also never make a perfectly flush cut to the trunk. This may increase the chances for decay. Make your final cuts just above the branch collar, that area of swelling where the branch attaches to the trunk.

On the average lot, trimming will cost from $100 and up, depending on the number of trees. But expect to pay a minimum charge of at least $200 to have a professional come out to do your trimming. However, when you consider the cost of large-caliper replacement trees and the potential to lose a large tree, the pruning is a bargain, both esthetically and economically.

Will Danielson is a certified arborist and is the owner of Advanced Tree Service and Landscaping, a division of Advanced Landscape Group, LLC. Contact him at his office 541-899-0666 or by cell at 541-621-9460 for more information.

Mistletoe -- Quiet Killer

In our experience, there are few parasites more insidious and with more potential for damage than mistletoe. While common and enjoyed by the romantic for its symbolism at Christmas, Phorandendron flavescens (of 900 different varieties, this is the one commonly harvested for Christmas) is an evergreen parasitic plant that grows on a number of tree species. Mistletoe has a mythology going beyond the Christmas kiss, with various traditions in Christian, Celtic, and Romanian cultures.

In Southern Oregon, oak seems to have the greatest weakness for mistletoe, though it is occasionally seen in Madrona or other species. It often gets hold most easily to stressed trees in marginal health. Mistletoe is passed through seeds with gravitational landing on tree limbs near infestations, or carried through the digestive systems of birds perching in trees. When the seed germinates, it grows through the bark, and puts root-like structures into the host tree's water carrying cavities.

Mistletoe absorbs both water and minerals from the tree and can result in reduced vigor, stunted growth, or even tree death. Death is more likely in an already stressed tree suffering from drought or disease.

Management of mistletoe is multi-phased. Initially, if you are making new plantings, avoid mistletoe-susceptible species (such as Modesto ash). Treatment of existing trees is principally mechanical, with skilled pruning to remove the plant and also the haustoria (root-like structure in the host tree). Done properly, pruning will remove the mistletoe pest, and in fact, strengthen the host tree by improving its structure.

Chemical control is possible with a spring spray, which will control mistletoe in host trees. Spraying, however, provides only temporary control and the parasite will soon re-grow and require treatment. This should probably only be considered if there is a mechanical limitation to proper pruning.

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