Common Tree Pruning Mistake – Cutting off Too Much

close up of man pruning a tree with a saw

Many species of trees need to be pruned once every few years. However, some trees will indeed grow faster than others. If this is the case on your property, do not give in to the temptation to make this common tree pruning mistake. The error in question is cutting off more than you should. What can seem like a convenience will have a harmful effect on the long-term health of the tree if done consistently.

How Much Should I Prune?

In any given year, 25 percent of the crown is the maximum that should be removed. In most circumstances, a healthy tree will usually only require pruning between 5 and 10 percent. Removing more than a quarter will excessively diminish the tree’s foliage. Insufficient amounts of foliage reduce the tree’s ability to synthesize food from the sun. As a consequence, a malnourished tree will be more susceptible to contracting a fungal disease. It will also be less resilient to any potential invasion of predatory bugs.

Decreased foliage will also make the tree more vulnerable to damage from sunscald, which is a condition resulting from too much exposure of the woody parts to the sun. Trees are typically most vulnerable during the winter months when they have no leaves, however because of the reduced intensity of the sun exposure during this time, the damage is less severe. If the wood is too exposed during the warmer months, the effect will be much greater.

What if I Have Pruned Too Much?

If you have already made this mistake with one of your trees, do not panic. Making a one-time error will probably not result in anything catastrophic in most cases. However, you should enlist the help of one of our neighborhood arborists to help you provide proper aftercare in the form of nutrients and water to help the plant recover from the excess removal and be less susceptible to insects and disease during the recovery period.

Contact us to learn about our shrub and tree care programs and how we can help you to maintain your property all year long.