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Tree Management. Reduction Pruning

The Tree

This Liquidambar in Whitebridge was planted by the residents 45 years ago. Their children and grandchildren have grown up climbing it. On Mother’s Day each year, the family come round to have photos taken in the autumnal foliage. This tree is loved, and the owners say ‘our yard would be nothing without it’.

Tree History

Some years ago, a large branch failed during a storm, leaving a cavity on the main stem and a gap in the canopy that is still visible. Since then, arborists have reduced and maintained the tree’s size at least a couple of times. The aim of this has been to prevent further failure. As you can see from the before photos, the tree has good vigour, with over 4m of new growth on some parts. But, the lack of wound occlusion indicates this new growth has a poor attachment to the branch (trees seal, they don’t heal). All that new growth connected by a poor attachment means as those branches get larger, they could be more likely to fail.

The treatment

To maintain it for as long as possible and to reduce the risk of branch and stem failure, the trees height and spread has been reduced again. Using hand tools, and doing it now rather than later, creates only small diameter wounds for the tree to seal, rather than a big one. Also, it’s more likely to re shoot from younger growth.

The residents have already been using the fallen leaves as mulch. All cuttings were chipped on site and used to extend the existing mulch line. This helps to retain moisture in the soil and return nutrients, therefore improving growing conditions for the tree.

The tree will be monitored and a shorter interval between pruning may be adopted if it springs back well.

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