Does trimming your trees make them live longer?

Does Trimming Them Live Longer?

As a homeowner, you may wonder if trimming your trees can contribute to their longevity. After all, trees are valuable assets that provide a range of benefits from shade and beauty to environmental value. But does regular pruning really help in extending the lifespan of your trees? Let’s explore the truth behind this common belief.

Tree pruning is a key part of tree care that involves the removal of branches or foliage to maintain the health, structure, and appearance of trees. When done properly by an ISA Certified Arborist, tree trimming can benefit tree health in several ways:

  1. Removing Dead or Diseased Branches: Dead or diseased branches can pose a risk to the overall health and safety of a tree. They can become entry points for pests and diseases, and their decay can spread to other parts of the tree. Regular trimming to remove dead or diseased branches can prevent further damage and help trees recover.
  2. Improving Tree Structure: Proper trimming can help improve the structure and form of trees. This includes removing branches that can lead to structural issues, such as poor branch attachments, included bark, or co-dominant stems. By improving tree structure, trimming can reduce the risk of branch breakage or tree failure during storms or heavy winds.
  3. Enhancing Sunlight: Trees need sunlight to carry out photosynthesis; the process by which they produce food and energy. Trimming can help increase sunlight to the inner canopy of a tree, promoting better foliage growth, and improving overall tree health.
  4. Stimulating New Growth: Pruning can also stimulate the growth of new branches and foliage in trees. This is especially beneficial for trees that have been previously damaged, as it encourages the development of new and healthy growth.
  5. Managing Size and Density: Trimming can help manage the size and density of trees, preventing them from becoming overly grown. An overgrown or dense tree can lead to issues such as shading, crowding, or competition for resources. Properly pruned trees are better able to allocate resources to healthy growth and can be more resilient to environmental stressors.

While tree trimming can promote tree health, it’s important to note that it may not directly impact the lifespan of trees. Trees have a natural lifespan determined by their species, genetics, and environmental conditions. In fact, trees in the wild that grow to be hundreds of years old may have a naturally long lifespan because there are no artificial environmental circumstances. Trimming alone may not extend their lifespan beyond their natural limits.

Tree Life Cycle

However, regular and proper tree pruning can help prevent or mitigate issues that can shorten a tree’s lifespan. Improving tree structure can reduce the risk of branch breakage or tree failure, which can also impact a tree’s lifespan. Additionally, stimulating new growth through trimming can help rejuvenate older trees and extend their functional lifespan.

It’s important to note that over-pruning or excessive trimming can have negative impacts on tree health and longevity. Improper pruning practices can weaken trees making them more susceptible to pests, diseases, and reduce their ability to produce food and energy. It is important you have an experienced Tree Care Professional who is familiar with the ISA Pruning Standards, perform any pruning or trimming to avoid damaging the health of your trees.

Do Lawn Chemicals Harm My Tree?

Do Lawn Chemicals Harm My Tree?

The impact of lawn chemicals on trees can vary depending on the specific chemicals used, their concentration, application rate, and the tree species in question. In general, some lawn chemicals can potentially harm trees if they are misapplied or used improperly. The best way to avoid harming your tree is to use a professional familiar with tree health care. 

Here are a few examples:
  1. Herbicides: Herbicides are chemicals used to control weeds. If herbicides are applied too close to the base of a tree broadcast or sprayed directly on the tree’s foliage, they can potentially harm the tree by causing leaf burn, twig dieback, or even root damage. Some herbicides can also persist in the soil and affect the tree’s root system, potentially leading to long-term damage. Treatment to eliminate a weed without considering all the side effects can damage other plants. Therefore the pros and cons must be weighed.
  2. Insecticides: Insecticides are used to control insects that may infest lawns, but they can also affect trees and plants. If insecticides are applied without consideration for all living things, the insecticide can potentially harm beneficial insects that help control pests. The insecticide can harm or kill pollinators, as well as other non-target organisms. This disruption in the ecosystem can indirectly impact trees by affecting their natural pollination or pest control processes.
  3. Fertilizers: Fertilizers are used to provide nutrients to lawns and promote growth, but excessive or improper use of fertilizers can potentially harm or even kill trees. Over-fertilization can cause nutrient imbalances, which may negatively impact tree health. For example, excessive nitrogen can cause rapid growth, weak wood, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Not all treatments are a risk to your trees, the same goes for insects and fungus. With the correct knowledge, you can mitigate harming your trees if the right circumstances exist. Think about when you get sick with a scratchy throat, you can either let your immune system work through it and heal itself, or you can take antibiotics. If you take antibiotics, it will not only kill the infection/bad bacteria but it will also kill the good bacteria, causing your immune system to be more vulnerable to new infections. Overall having a lawn treatment does not necessarily mean it will harm your tree as long as the applicator considers the clients needs, the potential harm, and the benefits of treatments.

When an applicator considers the environment, pathogens/pest abundance, and the harm they can do to the potential host before treatment, the result of having a nice yard and healthy trees and plants will increase.