Global warming is definitely a problem, but we have learned in the past few weeks it can still get painfully cold in the Detroit area. Here in the boonies, we’ve had some snow and a bunch of days with really high winds. High winds mean branches of mature trees come down, sort of Mother Nature’s pruning technique. With a driveway going through the woods, I have quite a few branches to move each winter season.
Last week’s downed branches caused me to remember that terrible ice storm we had in 2003 in Southeastern Michigan. There was sometimes a half inch of ice on every branch of every tree. In the sunlight, it was a beautiful scene, but the reality was the major damage that storm created in the trees on the streets, in parks, and in our yards.
I had an interesting experience a few days after that ice storm. We went to visit a friend who was throwing a football game party. As we drove up to his house, in one of the older developments with lots of trees, the damage of falling limbs and even fallen trees was still everywhere. What was very obvious and a little weird, my friend’s yard was essentially clean and he has a number of big trees.
I figured he and his son had worked hard since the storm cleaning up the debris, but I was making a bad assumption. He said he had very little cleanup compared to his neighbors. He credited the fact that about four weeks before he had an arborist and his crew in to give a professional pruning to all his big trees. He says he does it every 4 or 5 years.
That was the first time I had a chance to clearly see the benefits of having large trees pruned periodically by a professional. General pruning involves a lot of thinning of branches on the interior of the tree’s structure. Of course dead branches are removed, but a good arborist can spot branches with a potentially weak crotch and those are removed. After a large tree has its haircut, it still is about the same size but there is more light coming through the branches because of the thinning process.
The most important rule in having your trees tended, is to always hire only a company with one or more certified arborists on the staff. They have gone through a rigorous education process and have passed a tough test put out by the state. Avoid the guy with the chainsaw and pickup truck. Tree care can be a substantial investment with a large tree costing $500 to $1000 to prune properly.
However, since a large shade tree is considered worth from $2000 to $4000 by realtors, it makes sense to have them cared for every four or five years to keep them healthy and remain beautiful and valuable components of your landscape.