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Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Posted by viche 7a MD (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 15, 12 at 14:52

I have a 20+ year old little lead linden and a couple of 20+ year old pin oaks in front of my house. I generally like to leave their natural shape alone and only prune their lower branches when they are in the way of people or cars. Would pruning these lower branches, or thinning out the little leaf linden promote accelerated growth in overall height or width of the crown of either species? I'd love to get more shade in the summer.

Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

in the sense .. that there is no insult to the root mass.. then theoretically.. since you have less canopy.. and the same roots.. then there should be more energy available .. for increased growth this year ...

and presuming you prune properly.. and perhaps prune for guidance .. you should get what you want ...

but, i am leery of your comment of wanting to 'prune' .. but also wanting 'natural shape' ... they seem counter-intuitive to me ....

perhaps its your word choice..

i call one thing .. limbing up ... taking low branches off the trunk so as to walk under a tree, one thing ...

and i call topping .. another thing..

but i have no clue.. specifically what you mean by 'thinning out' ... if you mean topping to make it wider .. DONT DO IT ...

otherwise.. can you explain what you mean by thinning???

i am stumped.. as of now.. on how you make a tree wider.. for more shade ..

ken


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Oh definitely not topping! Yes, I usually do only limbing and removal of dead branches or rubbing branches (which is kinda difficult on the pin oaks so I ignore it there) on these trees.

For thinning, I meant possibly removing some of the branches on the LLL back to the trunk in order to make the crown thinner. I've had two tree experts suggest that I do this as a means of reducing potential wind damage since LLLs have such a thick crown.

My thinking was that, as you said, with less leave surface over all, each remaining branch would grow longer, faster. So the tree would get wider and taller more quickly.

If I decide to do this, it would probably be more limbing, and less thinning.

So what do you think? Would it work?

Also, question about pruning. I recently "limbed" a low branch on a pin oak, cutting it (using the 3 step process - bottom cut, top cut, remove stump) back to right past the collar. I didn't realize that I was cutting at an angle, though, and some of the remaining stump is a little further away from the collar than I'd like it to be. This was last fall. It looks like the collar is beginning to grow over the shorter side of the stump. Would it be okay to re-cut the stump so that I get a closer cut? If I hit the collar, will that prevent it from growing back and continuing to close over the remaining stump?

Thanks


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Viche, as to your last question, if you can remove the dog-eared part without cutting into any of the callus tissue that is beginning to grow over the wound, then yes, do so. But do not under any circumstance re-injure by cutting into that callus. Trees have a hard time dealing with this.

Overall, removing plant parts via pruning means the plant will grow less. But it might seem to be growing more to you because said growth is more directed at remaining plant parts. Finally, judicious pruning of the trees, to remove rubbing branches, to shorten up wayward limbs or co-dominant ones, and to allow for clearance, can safely be done to the vast array of species. But their growth rate will be influenced most by environmental factors, especially rainfall.

+oM


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 16, 12 at 12:09

Yes, in experiments where half of a block of the same sizes and kinds of trees were topped and half were not, and both groups were dug and weighed after the topped ones had time to grow back the topped ones weighed less than the ones that were not pruned.


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

No topping, bboy.

Wisconsitom, thanks for the advice on fixing the "dogear."

So it sounds like pruning, while reducing overall growth, might actually make the boundaries of the tree wider and taller...somewhat. I was primarily wondering if allowing the lower branches to stay on the tree and not doing a lot of limbing (as I have) was preventing the tree from growing taller and wider since it had the extra leaves on those lower branches to help sustain itself. If so, I was thinking of doing more lower limbing.

BTW, regarding pruning, I assume a "wayward limb" refers to a limb that has grown abnormally past the main outline of the tree's crown? You'd want to prune that branch at the nearest intersection, not just cut it off mid branch, correct?


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 16, 12 at 15:34

You're still barking up the wrong tree. Or should that be limbing up? Anytime you cut part of a tree away, there is less of a basis for it to make new growth. Leaves make food from the sun which is stored in the branches, trunk and roots to provide the energy for growth the following season. The top above lower branches that have been cut off cannot and will not have a burst of size expansion as a result. If you want your trees to grow taller and wider, provide things that encourage growth like fertilizer (if a need is indicated), irrigation and mulching. Encourage the trees with nurturing instead of attacking them with pruners and saw.


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

.....but, you can prune trees judiciously without causing them lasting harm. Just don't prune for the sake of pruning. And yes, the 'wayward branch' can be handled as you suggest, OP.

Trees are designed to be able to tolerate a certain amount of branch loss, whether from wind, critters, or people with saws. The key is to not go nuts, and don't think you're doing it because the tree needs it done, but rather, because YOU need it done for some reason. Like raising up trees, the trees don't need this treatment, but if we are to drive garbage trucks, firetrucks or street sweepers under them, we limb them up. Same with wanting to have clearance in your yard to walk or mow under them. You want this, the tree doesn't care.

But given the fact that I've pruned trees for decades, including perhaps twenty five or thirty trees today, I won't be attacking the concept of pruning trees......for just cause.

+oM


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Okay...so I can stop worrying about NOT limbing.

Can you give me some suggestions on watering/fertilizing these trees if I want to encourage healthy growth? Any general rules? Thanks.


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

the general rule is that trees/shrubs/conifers ... NEED NOTHING...

unless a soil test shows something lacking in the soil ..

they are not children.. they do not need to be 'fed' ...

ken


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Yes, no heroic efforts necessary or even desirable! Sure, if things get very dry, you could water, but you'd have to water pretty much the whole lawn area to be doing any good. Meanwhile, the tree WILL get by whether you water or not.

Green plants are unique among all Earth's lifeforms in that they produce their own food. Calling fertilizing plants "feeding" them is essentially incorrect. But I'm not picking on you, OP. I see that all the time. Heck, they even market the stuff as "plant food" which is nonsensical.

Bottom line, a spot of patience will do the most good here. Once established, the trees will take off and grow faster than you initially imagined.

+oM


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

No, I understand. Thanks for the advice. I've heard that 1000...mature trees don't need fertilizer. I guess I was wondering if, even though they don't NEED it, if it might help them to grow faster...sorta like if I were to drink protein shakes while lifting weights. :)

I�ll accept your advice though and not try it if you think it�s a bad idea.

Though, I feel like I've seen it said many times that watering a tree during droughts is a good idea. I assume trees don't make their own water, and that a dry tree can succumb more easily to disease and insects. Also, I've heard it said that when you cut a tree down, the widest rings on the stump represent the years that the tree got the most water, and therefore grew the most. So that seems like an option. My neighbor has a subterranean watering device that drives water from a hose underground using a spike. I've used a sprinkler, as you suggested, and just watered the area around the tree for hours at a time.

The tree's 23 years old...so it's definitely established.


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

If nutrients are lacking in the soil, fertilization can definitely help improve growth. However, in most cases, natural soils have sufficient nutrient levels present. If sufficient nutrient levels are present and then you add more, this can negatively impact performance. A little bit of nitrogen is probably not going to hurt in most cases and may increase growth in many cases, but if you go be the old adage "don't fix what isn't broken" you are less likely to harm your tree. If you see signs of possible nutrient deficiencies (including slow growth), have a soil test performed or fertilize conservatively.

Watering trees in drier periods can have a very positive impact on tree growth and health. And, as you said, a drought stricken tree is much more susceptible to disease and pest problems. If you do water, just be sure to evaluate soil moisture and don't overwater (especially with smaller and newly-planted trees).


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Also, there is something called "luxuriant consumption". I know, sounds kind of kinky! But in turf grasses at least, it is known that providing the mineral nutrient potash, in levels higher than "needed" can still impart benefits to the grass plants. The extra potassium renders the turf more drought resistant and more able to handle wear and tear. Golf course guys employ this quite often.

Additionally, N is almost always in limited supply in most situations. Hence, adding N can result in a growth response. So once again, while the nutrient was not needed in the strictest sense, adding it still provoked increased growth.

In reading your posts, it is clear to me that you would have the ability to apply judicious amounts of fertilizers and water to your tree's growing zone, such that you could indeed speed up growth, without going too far, esp. with the N, and getting into the area of increased disease and insect susceptibility.

+oM


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

So what vehicle do you suggest for applying N&P? Would applying lawn fertilizer at normal rates right up to the trunk 2 times a year supply enough? Is there a particular brand of tree fertilizer that is good?

I applied Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed soil drench last summer due to a problem with aphids and sooty mold that I had tried unsucessfully to treat for years with oils and soaps and jets of water. That contains N 2% P 1% K 1% and 1.47% Imidacloprid. I was thinking of applying it once again this year to make sure I had the aphids under control. The only version I could find this year was Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed 2. It contains the same active nutrients, but .74% Imidacloprid & .37% Clothianidin.

I know a lot of people think Imidacloprid is over used, kills beneficials, and can lead to mite issues, but I was just at my witt's end with the aphids. Nothing was working. It also seemed that Imidacloprid was relatively safe. Now I have to deal with a second poison...Clothianidin. Any info on that one would be welcomed.

Also, would a second treatment this year pretty much max out the amount of additional fertilizers I should apply to the tree. I'll be fertilizing the grass around the tree as usual as well.

Thanks again guys.


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

If sufficient nutrient levels are present and then you add more, this can negatively impact performance, however, you'd have to apply a lot of a really weak fertilizer to have problems. I wouldn't worry much about over applying when using a very weak fertilizer like you mentioned.


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RE: Does pruning a tree promote acceleration of growth?

Viche, I would have to look up the cloththiandin. I'm not familiar with that one. It sounds to me though that the lawn fertilizer you're putting down should be adequate to slightly boost the levels of the big three-NPK-in the tree's rooting zone.

Also, since you are clearly quite keen on maximizing the growing conditions for these trees, you might look into some biorational products, things like humic acids and other compost derivatives, or even a top dressing of finely screened compost over the entire area. Compost tea is yet another way to attempt to gain the advantages resulting from such things. There's a difference between "what is needed" and what a dedicated individual might do to maximize the system. But particularly with standard fertilizers, less is going to be more in this case.

+oM


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