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Canopy Thinning, End-Limb Weight Reduction, and Winter Storm Preparedness

p>Micah Pace, M.S.Urban Forestry Specialist, ISA Certified Arborist,Tree Risk Assessment Qualified

In
native stands, trees grow much more densely than they do in our planted
urban and suburban properties. As a result of mutual shading, most
trees in native stands grow taller and thinner with few (if any)
over-extended limbs. In contrast, most of our urban shade trees are
allowed to grow in the open where they tend to develop much fuller
canopies with large diameter horizontal branches.

Large
open-grown trees can be beautiful and scenic, but grown close to
streets, driveways, and homes, they may represent increased risk for
property damage and/or injury.
Through
time, this horizontal growth can increase the risk of failure. This is
especially true for relatively weak-wooded species such as ash and pear.
However, this is also true for trees like live oaks because they retain
their foliage all winter long. When freezing rain or snow occurs the
leaves provide ample surface area for ice and snow to build up causing
long extended limbs to become more susceptible to breakage.

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Before thinning and end-limb weight reduction.

The excess rainfall this past spring was both a blessing and a curse. While replenishing our reservoirs is very important, the large amount of rain also lead to excessive canopy growth.
This dense growth increases the overall weight of the canopy and for
long, over-extended limbs in particular. This extra weight can increase
the risk of failure and breaks in the canopy. Secondly, excessive soil
moisture also resulted in an increase in fungal diseases which if left
uncontrolled could decrease the structural integrity of trees as well.

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After thinning and end-limb weight reduction.

Preparing your large shade trees for upcoming winter storms is very important to protect the long-term health of your trees.
Canopy thinning is a pruning technique to reduce the overall volume
(i.e. weight) of a tree’s canopy. This can be targeted to specific limbs
or portions of the tree or for the entire tree. Reducing end limb
weight will reduce the risk of loss during storms. The images below
depict the same open-grown live oak both before and after thinning. The
significant weight reduction of this tree’s canopy has lowered the
potential for damage during an upcoming storm this winter and next
spring, while not dramatically altering the tree’s appearance.

Preservation
Tree cares about your trees. Call us for an evaluation today and allow
us to increase both the value and safety of your property.

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