What Too Much Pruning Can Do to Your Tree

July 31, 2017

So you’ve heard from friends and neighbors about the benefits of tree pruning. Along with tree trimming, pruning can be incredibly beneficial. But, as with all tree care, there are correct techniques and incorrect techniques. We’ve discussed pruning at great length in previous posts, however, our team felt the need to discuss one area in particular: the dangers of pruning too much.

  1. Certain cuts can lead to decay – Keep in mind that any cut made on a tree is a wound that must be healed. You’ll notice that with professional tree care companies, they try to stick to as few cuts as possible. Interestingly, smaller cuts throughout a tree’s life will be more beneficial than large ones that should have been made when the tree was smaller. Not to add any more pressure, but one poorly made cut can ruin a tree for life.
  2. Sun damage and interior sprouting – Over-pruning can lead to a large amount of interior sprouting, allowing excessive sunlight penetration through the remaining canopy and onto the bark.  Remember that if too much foliage is removed, an imbalance in the roots to foliage ratio sets in. The tree is then forced to use stored food to regrow foliage. Let’s look at the Red Oak, for example. If this tree’s bark is normally in a shaded area and it’s been suddenly exposed to full sunlight, then the cambium layer directly under the bark can burn along the length that’s exposed. Believe it or not, trees can have adverse reactions to the sun, similar to humans. Sunscald can cause interior sprouting in an attempt to protect the bark.
  3. Reduced limb strength – If too much of a tree’s foliage and lateral growth have been removed, its individual limbs are subject to higher stresses. Be aware that trees containing longer limbs with foliage on tips will be more likely to break than those containing smaller, outward growing limbs and an even amount of foliage. This even amount of growth and foliage distributes the stress load from high winds along the entire length of the limb, as opposed to concentrating it at the tip. The takeaway message from this point is that reduced limb strength typically points to breakage down the road.
  4. Increased risk of wind damage – It makes sense that trees with high canopies deal with much higher wind stresses. Though it’s not possible for all trees, the ideal canopy to trunk ratio is ⅔ canopy ⅓ trunk. With over-pruning often comes excessive raising of low limbs. This increases the stress load on the roots and trunk. Tree care experts will tell you that if either the trunk or roots feature decayed, damaged, or weak areas, you may be looking at the trunk breaking or, even worse, the tree falling over.
  5. Increased maintenance costs – As aforementioned above, over-pruning creates excessive sprouting. In order to maintain the aesthetic qualities of a tree, in this case, constant pruning will be required. Not surprisingly, this causes a domino effect. For example, constant pruning means a higher maintenance budget. On the other hand, good pruning techniques limit the need for constant attention and reduce costs for tree maintenance.  


Now that you’ve been educated on the dangers of over-pruning, let’s move on to how we can help. Since 1989, our tree company has been Chicago’s choice for elite tree services. We understand that tree maintenance is an investment on your part, which is why we take a no-nonsense approach from start to finish. Here’s what you can expect when you contact Pro Tree:

  • Professionalism – We’ve called this area home for nearly three decades, meaning we treat our customers like family. There’s no fees, gimmicks, or playing games when dealing with Pro Tree Service. Prior to signing off on work, we make it a point that you understand all of the relevant risks and costs so that you can make the best decision possible.
  • Quality – We hold ourselves to the highest standard in every project. From tree pruning to tree trimming services, our team always strives for the ultimate customer satisfaction. We use techniques that are both innovative and safe for your tree’s long-term health.
  • Reliability – Have you ever dealt with a shady tree company? A number of them exist and take advantage of homeowners just like you. We emphasize that we are fully licensed, insured, and bonded. Plus, we’re open year-round and offer 24-hour emergency response service should you need us.

Call Pro Tree Service today for a free estimate.

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