Tree Safety

Tree Pruning and Removal – How to Tell When It’s Time

It usually happens while walking through the yard one day – you notice leafless limbs or dead branches lying on the ground. But how do you know when a tree needs a good pruning or when it should be removed?

In this article, we’ll explain when a tree is considered a safety hazard and when it just needs a good, healthy trim.

Signs Your Tree Needs Pruning

Tree Pruning is essential for the healthy maintenance of trees, but improper pruning can cause damage and in some cases the tree’s death. That’s why trees should only be pruned by Certified Tree Care Safety Professionals, like the experts at Friendly Tree, who practice safe, proven and effective methods.

Damaged, Diseased or Dead Branches

Besides the danger of falling, broken or damaged limbs can serve as an entry point for insects and disease. In general, a tree has a good chance of survival if less than 25% of its branches are damaged.

Dense Canopy

A tree canopy that is too dense is a problem, as restricted sunlight and airflow can lead to disease.

Undesirable Branches

Sometimes, weak or troublesome limbs must be removed in order to benefit the health of the entire tree. Suckers and water sprouts steal a tree’s resources and should be removed. Crossing branches can damage each other and should also be pruned. Co-dominant leaders (two branches of similar size growing up from the top of the tree) are prone to splitting and tearing during strong winds. Eliminating one of these branches provides the tree with more stability.

Weak or Split Crotch

As a tree ages, its crotch (where two branches come together) may grow weak and split apart; removing split crotches helps keep the tree healthy and strong.

Approaching Power Lines or Structures

A more obvious reason for pruning is a tree’s proximity to power lines or other structures. Unfortunately, people sometimes plant trees under power lines not knowing how tall they will get at maturity. Be sure to hire a professional for these kinds of jobs, as there is significant risk to people and property if the job is not done correctly.

The best time to prune your trees is when they are dormant in late winter or early spring, which encourages healthy spring growth. Dead, damaged or hazardous branches should be trimmed as soon as possible.

Signs Your Tree Should be Removed

Not all dead or dying trees need to be removed. Those that don’t pose a risk to people or structures can be left alone and serve the neighborhood birds as a shelter and food source. Here’s how to tell when tree removal is necessary:

Large Number of Dead or Damaged Limbs

If 50% or more of the tree is damaged, and falling limbs pose a hazard, it’s time to say goodbye. If the dead branches are all on one side of the tree, it’s typically a sign of root or trunk problems and the tree should be evaluated by one of our arborists.

Severe Trunk Damage

Severe damage to the tree’s main trunk (more than 25% of the trunk’s circumference), including large cracks and seams, indicate decay.

Hollow Trunk

A tree can live for many years with a hollow trunk, but it will eventually come down. If a third of the trunk is hollow (or rotted), consult an arborist about getting it removed.

Root Damage or Weakness

It may be hard to tell if a tree has substantial root damage, but if the ground nearby has been excavated or you suspect any damage to the root system, consider removing the tree. Also look for trees with shallow root systems as a result of their growing environment. Trees near ledges, large rocks or right next to a water source often have shallow roots.

Leaning

If your tree is suddenly leaning in one direction, it could mean root damage or weakening. A tree that is noticeably leaning in any direction is unsafe and should probably be removed.

Need help determining if your tree needs pruning or removal? Friendly Tree can help. For over 25 years we’ve been helping New Jersey residents with their tree care needs. Our certified arborists adhere to ANSI standards for tree care practices, with the expertise to help you assess what your trees need to stay happy and healthy.

Summer Tree Care in New Jersey – What You Need to Know

As summer approaches, it’s up to us to protect the trees on our property. Trees that are exposed to extreme heat and dry conditions during the summer can be stressed and more prone to health issues the following winter.

Young trees, especially, need extra care and diligent watering in hot, dry weather. Older, more established trees may not require extra watering, but there are steps you can take to ensure the tree and root system remains healthy.

Summer Watering Tips

Be Consistent.

Follow a regular, consistent watering schedule that mimics natural rainfall. Give each tree one gallon of water (the equivalent to one inch of rain) every week or so.

Take Extra Care.

For newly planted or young trees, water more frequently during hot, dry weather. They are still establishing their root systems and need extra care during drought, otherwise they will become stressed.

Choose the Right Time.

Avoid watering trees during the afternoon, when evaporation is at its peak. The best time to water is early in the morning, before the heat of the day.

Water Deep.

Deep watering is the best kind of watering. If possible, install a drip system and bury it at least a feet below the ground.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Mulch.

Keep trees well mulched (2-4 inches) to retain moisture and regulate the soil temperature. If you have a drip system, make sure to apply mulch beyond the drip line for maximum water uptake. Read how to properly apply mulch to your trees here.

Keep Your Trees Happy Year-Round.

Keeping trees happy and healthy throughout the year goes a long way toward keeping them protected during the harsh summer months. Fertilize regularly and apply compost to the soil twice a year to improve the soil structure and reduce water runoff.

How to be Firewise

Going into the summer season, there has been a flurry of news articles highlighting wildfire danger in New Jersey’s Pinelands, with Rolling Stone Magazine going so far as to report headlines like “Apocalypse in the Garden State.”

Since the last major blaze in 1963 – known as Black Saturday – the population in the Pinelands has tripled. According to the article, “If a series of blazes starts on the right dry and windy day, it could take out a large chunk of the Jersey coastline.”

Although most city dwellers don’t think much about wildfire danger, the 720% population increase in wildland/urban interface areas across the U.S. (since 1960) has put more homes and lives in jeopardy than ever before. Because embers from wildfires can travel up to 14 miles, home ignitions can happen anywhere.

What Does That Mean for New Jersey Homeowners?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “When it comes to wildfire risk, it is not a geographical location, but a set of conditions that determine the home’s ignition potential in any community.”

There are simple, proven steps you can take to protect your home or property from fire, like:

  • Pruning trees on the property so that the lowest branches are no lower than 6 feet from the ground
  • Keeping grass, trees and shrubs on the property well watered and maintained
  • Clearing leaves and dead vegetation from gutters, porches, and decks within 10 feet from the home or building
  • Removing flammable items like firewood and propane tanks within 30 feet from the home or building

For more tips on how to protect your home, download NFPA’s Firewise Toolkit.

If you need help getting your trees ready for summer, give us a call. The tree care experts at Friendly Tree are here to provide skilled, reliable service, taking the utmost care of our customers and their trees.