Pruning Practices to Avoid for Trees in Arlington, Virginia

The biggest issues with tree pruning in Arlington involve correcting the results of past improper pruning, severe heading cuts, stub cuts, etc.

If a tree has been cut in mid-span of a limb or a leader, then there will be a lot of epicormic growth in the vicinity of that cut. An epicormic growth is a limb that grows out of an unnatural place on the tree, such as a place where a bad cut was made. If a tree is broken or unnaturally affected, it will likely experience epicormic growth. Badly performed cuts will not heal. The decaying process continues as new branches grow from that same point. So we find lots of very poorly connected limbs that need to be removed yet again. As their weight increases, the likelihood that these limbs will fall off the trees increases significantly. Branches should originate from natural nodes on the branches, and not from stem wood.

We were recently called to a home in Arlington where the homeowner had been sitting on his deck on a nice, bright sunny day just a half hour before. A huge limb fell from a tree because it was poorly attached to the tree. It was growing at a very steep angle and had included bark. The wood that fell onto his deck, roof, and lawn had a combined weight that exceeded 12,000 pounds! It fell from a height of over 45 feet. If he had remained sitting there another half hour, he would surely have been killed instantly. He would not have even known it was happening. The limb just released and fell like a stone.

This event happened because of something else that happened early in the tree’s life, probably more than 40 years previously. The tree had broken at that point, then it re-grew, but it grew two stems instead of one. As those stems grew together, it did so with inherent weakness in that part of the tree. Had an arborist inspected the tree, that would have been the first thing he would have noticed. Unfortunately, the tree had never been examined by a professional arborist.

It was an otherwise healthy looking tree. It did not have dead branches on it, but the weakness was there, and the house all along was the target. Tree risk assessors pay close attention to potential targets when assessing risks associated with any particular tree. They ask themselves, “What would the tree strike if its structure failed?” In this case, obviously, the house and the deck were the targets. That would usually be a very high priority in the risk assessment. Had this tree been given a risk assessment, it would have failed the inspection. A recommendation would have been made to remove the tree because of the inherent weakness in it. The disaster could have been avoided.

Fortunately, in this case, no one was injured or killed, but of course there was significant property damage nonetheless. The tree had to be removed after the massive failure, and of course the house was devastated.

Tree Pruning Arlington, VA

As most Arlington residents know, some of the largest, oldest, and most impressive trees in Northern Virginia can be found in Arlington. Like any trees, these giants sometimes must be pruned for the safety of those underneath them. But unlike the younger, smaller trees elsewhere, these older trees do not tolerate poor pruning practices. The older and larger a tree, the less ability that it has to recover from over-pruning or poor pruning cuts. Wounds take longer to heal, allowing entry for disease and pests. Canopy grow-back is slow in larger trees, and they tend to react instead by growing water sprouts on the stem which, although they produce energy, take turgor pressure away from the top canopy and accelerate die-back.

At Pro Arbor, we have been pruning the large trees of Arlington for years. Our arborists employ the techniques in pruning that have been scientifically proven to preserve the health of mature trees. For the sake of your heirloom trees, please call Pro Arbor for the care and pruning of them.

Tree Removal Tale in Arlington

There was an Arlington tree removal where we removed two red oaks and a white oak from a backyard. The trees were in a condition that prevented us from doing manual rigging, so we had to use a 120 ton crane. We set it up in the client’s driveway and lifted the trees in pieces over the top of the house, to be processed in the front yard.

One tree in particular had hypoxylin canker. When we see that disease present, we have to take special precautions for the safety of the surrounding property and (of course) the workers who are going to be under and around the tree. That’s why we called in the crane, and since it was there for that one tree, it made sense to use it to remove the rest of the trees as well. A crane is a time-saving machine, because it can lift thousands and thousands of pounds, sometimes as much as four or five tons at a time, depending on the angle of the boom and the distance that the items are to be lifted.

We make a cut in a certain position, and then we can move large pieces of the tree in one “pick”, as we call it. The crane is an expensive piece of equipment, so it is an added expense to a job, but the payoff is in the time saved and more importantly in the safety to all concerned. We have sometimes utilized cranes for their safety, and sometimes for value and expediency. In this particular instance, we called the crane in for safety reasons.