Pruning Maple Trees

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pdqdl

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By the way, your trimming looks just beautiful.

I would have taken off a few more of the branches, particularly that bigger branch in the photo with the red car. That bigger branch on the right is beginning to compete with the main trunk, and is almost as tall. Imagine that tree in 40 years. Do you want a maple tree with a co-dominant stem and a weak crotch? Prune that one off, however and it will make a bit of a hole in the tree's symmetry. Next year, if not pruned now, that branch will still be competing with the branches above, and the hole it leaves will be even bigger. So you need to decide how big that branch will be when you think you will probably want to cut it off.

For branches that you don't wish to cut off yet, there is a pruning process called subordination, which can mitigate the apparent injury to a tree when you don't want to cut off too much at once.

This is a very good read: https://www.bartlett.com/resources/structural-pruning-of-young-trees.pdf
 

pdqdl

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What do you mean by "shoes" and "stops?"
My sawsall have very sharp pruning blades. Is that a problem?

1655572822710.png

That shoe will be banging on the bark that remains when the cut is completed. This causes poor callus formation on the side the saw was resting.

Excellent callous formation below:
1655572997669.png

Injury caused by cutting into the branch bark collar:
1655573330755.png

Banging on the bark collar with your sawzall can have the same effect: horseshoe shaped wound closure that delays compartmentalization and increases the probability of disease spread.

1655573509102.png
 

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By the way, your trimming looks just beautiful.

I would have taken off a few more of the branches, particularly that bigger branch in the photo with the red car. That bigger branch on the right is beginning to compete with the main trunk, and is almost as tall. Imagine that tree in 40 years. Do you want a maple tree with a co-dominant stem and a weak crotch? Prune that one off, however and it will make a bit of a hole in the tree's symmetry. Next year, if not pruned now, that branch will still be competing with the branches above, and the hole it leaves will be even bigger. So you need to decide how big that branch will be when you think you will probably want to cut it off.

For branches that you don't wish to cut off yet, there is a pruning process called subordination, which can mitigate the apparent injury to a tree when you don't want to cut off too much at once.

This is a very good read: https://www.bartlett.com/resources/structural-pruning-of-young-trees.pdf
Thank you! I'm going to read over that bartlett reference right now.

This is the branch you're recommending I remove?
20220618_095955_HDR.jpg
 

pdqdl

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Not usually considered: chainsaw bucking spikes can have a similar (but more severe) effect to the shoes on a sawzall, but they don't generally get used on a tree until it's coming down entirely.
 

pdqdl

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Thank you! I'm going to read over that bartlett reference right now.

This is the branch you're recommending I remove?
View attachment 996751

Yep. That be the one.
Just a guess: that branch is on the south to south-west side of the tree, right?

Consider doing some "crown reduction" on that branch. Cut out some of the top branches on that limb, thin it a bit, and otherwise spank it into submission without removing it entirely, effectively "subordinating" it to the other branches on the tree. Let the tree grow a few more branches into the thinned area, then cut off the whole limb when the trunk has grown a bit more.

The Bartlett pruning guide should make that perfectly clear, although I think it is rather weak in describing how to subordinate a branch.
 

pdqdl

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I do too! I own one, but haven't been using it for pruning. I just finished up 4 trees out front with a pruning saw and have a dozen more to do out back and my right arm is already feeling it!

For folks that don't want to keep yet another gas powered device around the house, I have it on good word that the DeWalt electric chainsaw is awesome, and their batteries work with other tools. The Stihl electric chainsaw, however, is weak and doesn't cut very long before the battery takes a puke and dies. Not worth the considerable investment, in my opinion.
 

arathol

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Thank you! I'm going to read over that bartlett reference right now.

This is the branch you're recommending I remove?
View attachment 996751
NO.......Removing that large limb would require removing more on the other side also to keep the tree in balance. In doing that you are removing almost 1/3 of the trees volume. This could seriously compromise the tree and it may not recover from that sort of amateur hacking. Right now you should be trimming more like this......then go from there.....
1RnC1RB.jpg

When you are trimming a small tree like that, removing a little bit at a time goes a long way to getting it right, where cutting off large parts of the tree all once can't be fixed.
By the time that tree gets big enough to worry about its integrity, you probably won't be there to worry about it.......
 

pdqdl

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The shoe on every sawzall makes bangs on the material being cut. That's how they work. Now, if you don't use the shoe at all to stabilize your cut, it mostly just wiggles in place and doesn't cut as well. It can be done that way, however.
The teeth on the saw only cut on the pull stroke, and this leaves the saw inclined to movement towards the shoe. Cutting efficiency increases a lot when you use the shoe as a stop to control the vibration. A good sawzall (the more expensive versions) has an elliptical cutting path that makes the vibration problem worse (more need to use the shoe), but they also increases the cutting efficiency.

If you really want to be serious about your pruning, buy a Silky handsaw. They will casually cut off limbs your sawzall will gnaw on for several minutes. A sharp Silky will whistle through a 1" branch on a single yank. I can take my pole saw and casually prune off a 4" branch in not too many strokes. It's easier to run that saw for a few hours than it is the much heavier gas powered pole saws. That being said, making undercuts with a pole saw really sucks; it's not so bad with the powered pole saws.

Each replacement blade is about $90, so be sure you keep it in the scabbard when you aren't cutting!
 
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Lets say I have a 2' long branch I want to completely remove from the trunk of a tree. Are you saying to cut that branch in half before cutting at the trunk?
Why would you do that?
So you don't damage the area near the final pruning.

I'm no arborist but have been doing my own orchard ~50 years
 

pdqdl

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NO.......Removing that large limb would require removing more on the other side also to keep the tree in balance. In doing that you are removing almost 1/3 of the trees volume. This could seriously compromise the tree and it may not recover from that sort of amateur hacking. Right now you should be trimming more like this......then go from there.....
1RnC1RB.jpg

When you are trimming a small tree like that, removing a little bit at a time goes a long way to getting it right, where cutting off large parts of the tree all once can't be fixed.
By the time that tree gets big enough to worry about its integrity, you probably won't be there to worry about it.......

We disagree only slightly here. Subordination would be better than mass reduction here, but that maple would be fine if you whacked the whole branch at once. It would definitely take a year to fill in the hole created, and you are right: someone would probably conclude that it had been hacked upon.

Good subordination of that limb would be sure to eliminate the TOP branches on that limb, and quite a few to thin it on the way down, as well. There is little structural benefit to snipping off that little branch you highlighted, but that's probably 'cause there is only so much highlighting you can do with a picture and a digital marker.

What should have happened, is that the branch should have been pruned off a couple of years ago. Too late now, except to start cutting, or live with the results.

I disagree sharply with your comment regarding "balance". Trees don't need balance, except as an esthetic consideration for the humans that regulate them. I certainly wouldn't do any removal on the other side to keep that tree looking balanced. What has happened here is that the tree grew out of balance, probably due to the increased sunlight on that side of the tree. Remove the "out of balance" parts, and the tree will continue to grow more on the south side. Said growth will just be mounted a little bit higher in the tree.

Let's not forget that there is a lot more to trimming a tree than just raising it, too. Many things to consider, not all are worthy of posting in this thread.
 

arathol

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I disagree sharply with your comment regarding "balance". Trees don't need balance, except as an esthetic consideration for the humans that regulate them. I certainly wouldn't do any removal on the other side to keep that tree looking balanced. What has happened here is that the tree grew out of balance, probably due to the increased sunlight on that side of the tree. Remove the "out of balance" parts, and the tree will continue to grow more on the south side. Said growth will just be mounted a little bit higher in the tree.
You don't think a tree should be balanced? Thats not what you put in that picture......:rolleyes:
Maple trees can be brittle and also can be unstable due to shallow roots. As such they have a tendency to break or tip over fairly easily. Removing that large branch will cause the tree to be lopsided and more prone to damage. Cut off that large leader and the tree will have far more weight on one side...forever.....unless you remove some from the other side. Not to mention it will look like crap and possibly kill the tree..... As to growing back, its going to take a long time for that tree to fill in a hole that size. The epicormic response to an injury of that extent will most certainly result in a large amount of smaller limbs sprouting along the other side. These sprouts will need to be trimmed constantly to avoid further cosmetic damage to the tree, and will cause the tree to look odd in any case...
The tree didn't grow out of balance in any way, thats just the nature of those trees. Most every similar maple I have seen over the years that has grown without the interference from "experts" looks about the same.... It looks pretty good the way it is. It looks to have good symmetry right now outside of what I highlighted in yellow. Those branches (the ones much closer to horizontal than vertical) will in a short time be large enough to hang down and just be in the way, and be prone to breakage in a storm. As I said before, trim in small amounts, don't dive in and start cutting the big branches right off because its quicker and easier. Appearance is a big part of having trees in your front yard. You don't want trees that look like they were trimmed by a line clearance crew......


The branches circled in yellow will in the future be problematic. As the grow they will become more and more horizontal and droop. Best to remove them now while they are small, the injury to the tree will be minimal, and the symmetry can be maintained. The ones on the left (the ones that are near horizontal or below horizontal) are very small, but still they contribute to appearance and soon will be much larger.
WXm0Usp.jpg




The tree next to it however has a serious lean developing, probably from being planted to close together. That should be addressed while the tree is still small and easily manageable....If that were my place that leaning tree would be removed to allow the larger tree next to it to grow properly.
 

pdqdl

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Well... That's why tree guys can't seem to get along. Each of us is always right, but we seldom see a trimming the same way. I'd suggest that you read the Bartlett pruning guide that I posted, and then you will see how my pruning points are completely in line with the PhD arborist that wrote it.

I'll agree the 2nd tree needs to go... Someday. Customers often hesitate to cut now for future needs, especially when that tree comes with memories.
 

arathol

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If you really want to be serious about your pruning, buy a Silky handsaw. They will casually cut off limbs your sawzall will gnaw on for several minutes. A sharp Silky will whistle through a 1" branch on a single yank. I can take my pole saw and casually prune off a 4" branch in not too many strokes. It's easier to run that saw for a few hours than it is the much heavier gas powered pole saws. That being said, making undercuts with a pole saw really sucks; it's not so bad with the powered pole saws.

Each replacement blade is about $90, so be sure you keep it in the scabbard when you aren't cutting!
Depending on needs, the Silky Yamabico is something to look at if you can find one. It has larger teeth on the bottom edge, and the top has finer teeth that can be used for undercuts. I've had one for years.
Silky pole saws can be very expensive.....I bought my Hayate some 10 years ago now, and it was was more than $400 then. I've seen them for sale recently at close to twice that (are they even sold in the USA anymore?), and a new blade alone is $100. I just replaced one and have a spare on the shelf.
 

pdqdl

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I sharpen mine; they last a lot longer that way. Just the file to sharpen them with is $25, and it takes no small amount of time to sharpen the Hayate blade, too. 3 facets to file on each tooth, and they are very close together. You can't hit the other teeth carelessly while you are sharpening one, either.

Two of our sponsors sell Silky products:
 

arathol

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Well... That's why tree guys can't seem to get along. Each of us is always right, but we seldom see a trimming the same way. I'd suggest that you read the Bartlett pruning guide that I posted, and then you will see how my pruning points are completely in line with the PhD arborist that wrote it.

I'll agree the 2nd tree needs to go... Someday. Customers often hesitate to cut now for future needs, especially when that tree comes with memories.
Well, I see it as what the the tree might look like in a couple years. You need to think just as much about what those little branches will do in two or three or even five years, when it might be too late to fix it, as you do cutting off the larger more obvious limbs. Any branches such as those pictured that are growing more out than up should be considered as a future problem and the closer to horizontal the more potential there is for a problem.

The Bartlett guide? Well, here's the thing.....you are reading a guide on-line, but I've actually been to Bartlett training classes.....in person.......courtesy of former employer.....sometimes you get more from a live instructor than from reading a book..... LOL

I sharpen mine; they last a lot longer that way. Just the file to sharpen them with is $25, and it takes no small amount of time to sharpen the Hayate blade, too. 3 facets to file on each tooth, and they are very close together. You can't hit the other teeth carelessly while you are sharpening one, either.
I have a feather file.....but its hard to sharpen a blade with a crack halfway through it. 😮 Got jammed in a dead dogwood branch that snapped off mid cut....It lasted 9 years though......
This is pure BS.
I would make you a video but I'm too tired and depressed from my sight-seeing adventure this afternoon.
No, not really.....You are supposed to cut with the shoe against what you are cutting to maintain proper control of the saw and prevent damage to the blade. This can cause the shoe to hammer against the bark.......best to use a proper pruning saw really. A sawzall won't make a clean smooth cut like a good sharp handsaw.
 

pdqdl

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Yeah, I think everyone who's cut a tree limb knows to cut off the heavy bulk first, then make an undercut before the final cut at the collar.
I thought he might be saying something other than that.

You haven't fired as many "trained" employees as I have. Bark peels are common as dirt in the tree industry.
 

pdqdl

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Well, y'er in for a surprise.

That saw will cut a lot faster once you learn how to use it. Straighter cuts, faster cuts, less effort, less heat, and... just a bit of banging on the bark. Pressing the blade into the wood harder makes it vibrate more, too.
 

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Well, y'er in for a surprise.

That saw will cut a lot faster once you learn how to use it. Straighter cuts, faster cuts, less effort, less heat, and... just a bit of banging on the bark. Pressing the blade into the wood harder makes it vibrate more, too.
Oh and you would know would you, you don't think that maybe these people know about pruning a tree, you don't think that maybe people have been pruning trees, using/fixing chainsaws longer than you have and that maybe they have more real world experience?.......
There is more than one way to prune trees and what you are doing by comments like you posted is belittling people, basically telling them they don't know what they are talking about.


Bye all, it's been nice knowing you, I am due to be banned soon because I don't agree implicitly with this 'pdqdl's point of view and then he/she get's triggered when I laugh at him.
 
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