Last week, I shared TLC (tender loving care) ideas for your Christmas tree, which you take into the house for a couple of weeks. This week, I’d like to make some suggestions about giving your outdoor trees a holiday gift. You know which trees. They’re standing out there in your yard taking all the bad weather Mother Nature sends their way. Still, they continue to give us the oxygen we breathe, clean the air of dust and dirt, sequester carbon and slow water run off.
Winter may be the season when most people hunker down but our arborists don’t. They’re eager to prune trees in winter, when they are dormant and leafless. Dormancy acts as nature’s anesthetic and defoliation bares their bones, and this is good for pruning trees. Winter pruning gives trees time to “heal” or, more accurately, to callus while dormant, rather than when they are expending energy to flower, leaf out and grow.
Bare bones provide our arborists with a good view of a tree’s structure so they can shape it quickly and accurately. We can remove just the branches necessary to thin the tree while retaining its natural shape. The lack of leaves also makes clean up easier, and this saves time and money.
Pruning lightens branch weight, which is a good idea at this time of year. Branches try their best to withstand the ferocious winds that can blow our way, and we like to make sure they’re able to withstand even the worst winds.
Many of the most beautiful trees have weak forks and co-dominant stems. Co-dominant stems occur when the trunk divides and grows in two or more directions. Although co-dominant stems may look to be the same size, one is always weaker than the other and will eventually fail and break. This can be prevented by cabling and bracing.
Winter is the ideal season to install cabling and bracing, just as it is for pruning. We can see the weak points and get to them easily. We install a threaded rod at the fork of the co-dominant stems and hold it in place with large washers and nuts. Further up in the tree, we install eyebolts in strategic locations and connect them with steel cables. This allows the tree to flex but not so much that it will break. As the tree grows, you’ll not even see the hardware. Since this work includes drilling into the tree, winter installations have time to begin callusing before spring.
There’s still time to put your trees on your holiday gift list. Call for more details.