Spring is here

It’s the time of year that is most anticipated, we’ve got through a very difficult Winter, we’ve endured The Beast from the East – twice. Finally we can say Spring is here. I love the first flush of blossom usually Prunus spinosa – blackthorn, followed closely by Crataegus monogyna – hawthorn. The hedgerows suddenly become a riot of colour. The birds start singing. Such a welcome return. Our phone also starts getting busy as people start to venture back into their garden. But is it the right time of year to prune your trees?

It’s all about timing

All decent tree surgery companies or stand alone Arborists should refer to British Standards (Bs 3998 2010) when specifying tree works. The scheduling of pruning is down to the Arborist to suggest. Clearly sometimes there are constraints in place that remove the “perfect world scenario”. For the most though we can as the professional suggest if the scope of works the client wants is suitable during springtime. Or indeed any other time of year.

The effects on the tree of both seasonal factors and weather conditions should be taken into account before pruning is undertaken. This is the Arborists time to shine!

He or she should adopt the mindset of avoiding work that would adversely affect the structural integrity and sustained growth of the tree in question.

Principles

So, spring is here. What’s the score?

Ideally as a general principle for maintenance of vitality, trees should NOT be pruned during SPRING GROWTH.

It’s best practice is to avoid pruning trees as they are coming into leaf – trees drain their reserves of energy (carbohydrates) stored within the wood to produce new leaves. Pruning trees at this time results in reserves being further depleted. Their wound response creates chemical barriers to wall off internal compartments within the wood to resist the spread of decay. This leaves them more vulnerable to pathogens and less able to produce vigorous and healthy new shoots.

Obviously some trees are pruned at this time, and most do not immediately decline or die, but the older the tree or the poorer its condition the more likely there is to be an impact on its health, vitality and resistance to disease in the long term.

Once fully in leaf  (new leaves have fully opened & matured) it is perfectly acceptable to prune – the next time to avoid is when trees prepare for autumn, as they are then using reserves to wall off their leaves, which leads to leaf fall.

As a note they should not also be pruned during periods of water stress.

How long to wait?

Well, we need to halt pruning until the new leaves have fully expanded and matured, or starch reserves have been replenished.

Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule, this is also down to the Arborist’s expertise to advise the client as to which species these amy be.

Essentially, as always it’s a gentle balancing act between the wishes of the client, the health of the tree and offering honest professional advice.

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