Like any living thing, a tree needs to be properly cared for or it will start to become unhealthy. Trees in particular need special care, since there are so many variables in the environment that contribute to a tree’s health or lack thereof. Trees can become damaged by the weather. They can also develop diseased areas that can quickly spread throughout the rest of the tree. That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically trim your tree; it will keep your tree healthier and ensure the health of other nearby trees and the safety of people who might be nearby
Here are four signs that it’s time to trim your tree:
1 The tree is showing signs of stress
While pruning is important, it’s not something you want to do unnecessarily. Trimming healthy limbs will simply put unnecessary stress on the tree and weaken it. That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically inspect your tree and check for any signs of stress.
Stress in trees can have a variety of causes and the symptoms can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Too much water, or too little, can stress tree by damaging its roots. Using too much fertilizer can cause the tree to grow too quickly, depleting resources and causing the growth to come in weakly. Trees can also be damaged by gardening tools, sun damage, human foot traffic, air pollution and insect attacks.
Often times it’s not just one of these things but a combination of several factors that combine to weaken your tree. While it’s certainly possible to control a few of the factors involved in stressing a tree, there is no way to control them all. When planting trees on your property, you’ll want to take environmental factors into account and only use trees that can handle your particular area.
Even if you do all of this, you still might see signs of stress in your tree. Common symptoms include unusually small leaves, or discolored ones. If the leaves are pale green or yellow then that’s a sign that the tree is struggling to provide the energy it needs to keep its leaves healthy. Other signs include leaves falling early in the year and the dieback of the tree’s branches. In many cases, the tree can overcome the stressors but will require pruning. If you notice dead or damaged tree branches, you should remove them immediately.
2. The tree appears diseased
There are a large number of diseases that can affect trees and they vary depending on the species, as well as the environment the tree is in. You’ll want to regularly inspect your tree for signs of stress caused by disease in particular.
For fungal diseases, there are many different signs that are caused by the growth of fungus. Check for lesions on the leaves or needles of a tree. You can also check for leaves turning brown or dots underneath the leaves. These are the spores of a fungal infection. Diseases like anthracnose cause blotches to appear on leaves as the fungus blocks off the part of the tree that delivers oxygen and nutrients. A disease such as powdery mildew causes visible white or grey fungal growth across the fruit and leaves of plants. If you see any of these signs or any other alarming signs of disease on your leaves, they may be a fungal infections.
Besides fungal infections, trees are also vulnerable to bacterial attacks. Slime flux disease is a common bacterial infection of the inner sapwood of the tree. It tends to take hold when the tree is wounded and causes the infected area to “weep” as the tree attempts to rid itself of the infection. Bacterial scorch is another common disease that attacks trees, causing the leaves to change color and occasionally fall off. Viral infections can occur in trees as well, leading to symptoms such as necrotic lesions on the leaves of the tree.
If you do notice signs of disease on your tree, you should take action to prune away the unhealthy areas. If you are fastidious in your inspections, you may be able to save the tree before the infection spreads any further.
3. The tree is growing too large
Sometimes a perfectly healthy tree will be in need of pruning. It’s possible for a tree to grow too large and interfere with other trees, pose a safety hazard, or simply no longer appear aesthetically pleasing. If this occurs, and you decide to prune the tree, you’ll have to be careful because cutting healthy limbs can do harm to the tree. You should only trim as much as you need to and reduce the limbs back to their point of origin. The best time to do this trimming is before the tree begins to open its buds, usually in the late winter or early spring.
4. The tree has died
If a tree dies, you may need to do more than trim it. You may need to remove it entirely. Note that this is not always the case; sometimes a tree can be left where it is to become a habitat for animals such as birds. However, if the tree is located in such a place that it will become a safety hazard for people or property, you may need to have it removed. The best way to do this is by calling in a professional tree service, who can safely remove the tree for you and in some cases, even help you plant a new one in its place.