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Pruning a mature southern magnolia

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by tc3fngrs, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. tc3fngrs

    tc3fngrs New Member

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    I have a southern magnolia tree which stands 40 or 50 feet on the west side of my house. It limbs are also hanging over the house and rub the shingles in icy weather. My primary issue is that it blocks the winter sun from my front yard.

    Question: can it be "topped" 10 or 15 feet without hurting it (if done at the right time of year)? and can the limbs be pruned back to keep it in its natural shape?

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  2. BC WetCoast

    BC WetCoast Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Southern magnolias don't like snow much and will have branch breakage as they can't handle the snow loading. I like to prune back the longer limbs so the canopy stays fairly dense to prevent the snow breakage. However, I live farther north than you.

    This is the wrong website to talk about topping. If you top it, or even drop crotch prune it, you are going to have maintenance issues in the future. You will have multiple leaders trying to become the dominant top and they will grow faster than the top you removed. You're better to thin it and let some light filter through. Or just say screw the grass.
     
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  3. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    "topped" and "natural shape" are really mutually exclusive. Magnolia respond better than many other trees, but it is still not a good idea. Proper pruning can almost always accomplish the same goals of getting it away from the house and improved light penetration.
     
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  4. tc3fngrs

    tc3fngrs New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I got the impression from your comment "this is the wrong website to talk about topping" that you might see me standing near the tree with "saw-in-hand". We bought this house two years ago. I love this tree and don't want to do anything to it that would hurt it. And I also love to garden. But it casts a shadow during the fall and winter over garden and compost area. I will take your advice though.
     
  5. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'm pretty sure what he means by "wrong place to talk about topping" is that most folks here are trained/qualified arborists who practice proper tree care. Topping is not an acceptable practice...good arborists don't do that.

    We are glad you are here asking though! We'll try to help you figure out how to get that tree managed so it is healthy and you enjoy it. Can you post pictures?

    http://www.treesaregood.org/treeowner is a good site to get general information about trees and tree care.
     
  6. tc3fngrs

    tc3fngrs New Member

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    Thanks ATH.

    The attached picture is from the garden-side of the tree. Taken around 10am.
     

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