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Dallas Morning News - October 31, 2019

Natural Tree Care – Part 3


Fruit trees are even more persnickety than shade trees and should be pruned from midwinter up until bud break. Certain fruit trees like peach trees should only be pruned just before bud break because pruning earlier can encourage bud break and flowering. Early flowers and late freezes spell no fruit.


As we have discussed, no trees should be damaged by “flush cuts” but peach, plum, apricot, and other fruit trees are particularly sensitive to these improper cuts. Many fruit tree insect pests and disease problems are related to damaging pruning cuts.


Prune trees for your harvesting convenience, but as late in the winter as possible to prevent early flowering


Cavities are big holes or voids in trees where healthy tissue has died and fungi have caused rot. The most common cause of this condition is flush cuts. Carefully removing decayed wood from cavities is OK but fillers such as concrete and foam are not good for the trees and look bad anyway. When removing decayed matter from cavities, be careful to avoid punching into living tissue. Injuries to healthy tissue can introduce further decay into the healthy wood. When cavities hold water, drain tubes are sometimes inserted to release water. Bad idea. Drain tubes puncture the protective barriers between the rotted and healthy wood and allow decay to expand. Tubes also create a new wound in the outside of the tree.


Filling cavities with concrete, foam, or tar is a mistake


Cavities left open and exposed to air will heal faster and more completely


Allowing co-dominate trunks to remain can result in serious damage


Cabling trees can be useful - but only in rare cases. Weak crotches between vertical growing trunks or limbs can sometimes be stopped from splitting further by installing cables horizontal to the ground so the natural movement of the tree is not completely stopped. Again, removing half of the “V” shaped vertical growth and eliminating co-dominate branching is a better way to prevent the splitting and have a healthier tree long term. Cabling used to hold up low growing limbs is poor tree care, danagerous and a waste of money. Cabling can be very dangerous and should only be done by professional arborists. In most cases, I do not recommend it.


1st spraying is at pink bud before the flowers open. Second spraying is after bloom fall


And - Mother Nature has hammered us again. First in the checklist of cleaning up tree damage is patience. The most dangerous thing to be aware of is downed electrical lines hidden in the debris. I know the quality tree care companies are buried in work now but be very careful if choosing to do any chainsaw work yourself. Trees that are partially down or even all the way down in some cases, can be under tension and the power released when cutting those large limbs or trunks can cause serious injury in the blink of an eye. When tree cleanup work is done, try to use the big limb and trunk pieces as firewood or give to someone who can, and if possible have the smaller limbs ground up into high quality mulch.


As a final thought on trees today, check out my Fabulous Trees Slideshow. It is a collection of photos assembled from many years of work and travel. Here’s the link:




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