Heights of lowest branches

four(9B (near 9a))April 5, 2013

Oaks, maples, any such.
Assume 5' tree, lowest branches 2.5' (at trunk),
and that those same branches will remain forever.
Do we expect lowest branches' final height to be
approx 2.5' ?

If significantly higher, then I need to know more.
Objective is lowest branches finally at 4';
and I do not know which branches to leave
on little trees in order to achieve it.

I want to remove unnecessary low branches very early ,
because I have discovered the amazing boost
to young tree growth.
Conversely, I want to leave low branches that
are destined to be at 4'.

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krnuttle

While I have no facts I do not believe a branch on that young of tree will stay at 4' above the ground as the tree grows.

As the tree grows keep it trimmed to look like a tree. When it is small you do not want to cut off every branch except the top two. Neither do you want the tree to have branches on the ground. Trim it as the tree wants not what you want. Remember that it will be 10 to 20 years before any branch becomes a REAL problem.

I do know that if you trim it too severely the trunk will not develop the size to be able to support the tree and you will have to support it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 4:14PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

tree trunks widen.. they do not elongate.. and drag branches higher ...

you prune them .... to the height you want them.. and they heal ...

being 5 foot 8.. i prefer 6 feet .. but having friends over 6 feet.. i prune to about 7 feet or higher.. if branches droop ...

you can grow them all as bushes .. if that is what you want..

otherwise.. you and your pruning saw are in charge of height at the bottom.. and GOD at the top ...

i dont understand how knuttle said what he means.. lol .. they will not rise with age.. but many trees will shade out and self prune lower branches ...

its all up to you..

and if you want specific suggestions on how to prune.. learn to post pic.. upright .. lol.. and we can give you some guidance ...

ken

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 7:02PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Assume 5' tree, lowest branches 2.5' (at trunk), and that those same branches will remain forever. Do we expect lowest branches' final height to be approx 2.5' ?"

That is correct. The center of the branch will remain at the same height from ground level (assuming ground level doesn't change for some reason).

"I want to remove unnecessary low branches very early, because I have discovered the amazing boost to young tree growth."

As Knuttle indicated in his/her last paragraph, removing the lower branches too early is often detrimental to the tree. I would advise you to almost never limb a tree up to a level higher than 1/3 of the tree's current height. Leaving the lower branches results in a much stronger, healthier, and better formed tree.
__________

"tree trunks widen.. they do not elongate.."

What Ken meant to say is that they don't stretch. They DO elongate, as they grow from their tip.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 10:26PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

Thanks to respondents for telling me the information that I sought;
also for deterring me from bad actions.

I will adopt as a guideline: "almost never limb a tree up to a level higher than 1/3"

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:44PM
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WxDano(5b-2a-6/7)

Do we expect lowest branches' final height to be
approx 2.5' ?

Yes.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:53PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

they might APPEAR to not be at 2.5 feet ... when they thicken..

say in 100 years.. when that branch is now two foot thick.. the center will still be at 2.5 feet ... but it will appear to be much lower due to width ...

can i ask.. why do you want them so low????

ken

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 8:44AM
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four(9B (near 9a))

>> why do you want them so low

2.5' so low? No, the hypothetical "forever" was to frame the introductory question.
4' so low? To have foliage at that level.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:02AM
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scotjute

With live oaks, the branches tend to drop lower than whatever height they leave the trunk at. It is entirely possible to end up with foliage at 4' even tho the branch leaves the trunk at 6'. We need to trim up the branches annually at the ends to keep them at certain heights. The Shumard Oak has not been as much trouble but it is much younger tree.

Use a different formula than brandon7, but with similar results : aim to remove about 15% of trees total foliage in a year, with 25% being the max in a single year when limbing up.

My ultimate aim is similar to ken's, 6-7' clearance under a tree
so you can walk under it. Even have this goal for the conifers tho I like them with foliage all the way to the ground. After watching a grass fire climb up a red cedar (18') in 2011 that had foliage all the way to ground in only 2-3 minutes, I am in the process of limbing all of them up to 6-7' level in effort to improve their fire resistance.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:48AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"...aim to remove about 15% of trees total foliage in a year..."

The amount of foliage you remove is a different subject than tree form (which is what we were talking about). You may want to consider not removing more than a maximum of 25% to 33% of the foliage per year, while you are pruning, but that consideration doesn't substitute for not limbing a tree up more than the lower 1/3 of the trunk. Going further creates an artificial lolly-pop looking tree and can result in a less than sturdy trunk.

The percentage of foliage you remove has to do with keeping the plant healthy. The way you prune has to do with aesthetics.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:07PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

> Posted by scotjute
> branches tend to drop

Yes, good point.

Various counter-measures that I take:
- shorten, as you stated
- lighten limb by reduction of branches
- vertical pole lift, ground to limb
- vertical pole lift, lower bigger limb to higher smaller limb
- rope lift, higher limb to lower limb
- horizontal pole support, over-under-over limbs
- overlapping redirection of branches

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 5:02PM
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nurseryman33(4/5)

One other thing to keep in mind - the tree will caliper faster and be stronger in the long run if you don't trim up more than 1/3 of the total height. As the tree grows taller, you can remove more lower branches until you reach the ones that you want to keep as your permanent lower branches.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 5:40PM
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scotjute

brandon7
Limiting total foliage removal to 15% -25% would be a more limiting factor than the 1/3 removal up the trunk. At least that's how I see it, if I'm understanding you correctly. The process of limbing up would then "eat up" all the foliage removage % available.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:29PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

> Posted by scotjute
> foliage removal to 15% -25% would be a more limiting factor
> than the 1/3 removal up the trunk

Could be true or not, depending on individual tree
(the distribution of the foliage on it).

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:16PM
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