Proactive tree pruning – encouraging spring growth
July is a good month in the temperate zones for tree pruning – check out your deciduous or evergreen trees for any damaged branches, insect attack or fungus.
I have a number of trees in my backyard and I had booked our great friend and exemplary arborist Ryan Roche of Future Tree Health to pay a tree pruning visit on the weekend. First we walked around the property to make a list of jobs and size them to get an idea of how much time he would need.
Breakfast first and then we started with the tree pruning. One of my Ficus microcarpa had a broken branch high in the canopy, probably due to some strong winds and, before I could blink, Ryan was clambering up to clean cut the torn branch to minimise any opportunity for disease. One other lower branch was cut back as well, as it was growing out over higher traffic areas and made the shape of the tree more pleasing. All done. Its’ pair was in good shape and didn’t need any work.
Ryan has been pruning and shaping our Jacaranda for 3 years now and it looks amazing, so no more work needed there for this year.
My neighbour saw us at work pruning trees and scrambled around to my front door to ask if we could trim back a native bush behind the Jacaranda, which had anchored itself over the back fence. Ryan was careful with this beauty, as this was the specimen my DH** was given when he became an Aussie citizen! All good with my neighbour and the bush actually looked a lot more balanced post pruning.
I hadn’t pruned my much loved apricot tree for 3 years, so it was time to reshape the forward leaning form and balance it. Originally it had been espaliered (grown flat against the fence), but over time the branches had grown outwards and, as it is a prolific producer, I had not kept it in check. Time to give it some love! As we are a BBQ mad family, all the fruit tree wood is fantastic for smoking meat, once it is dried. So DH was very careful in rescuing all the cut branches and stacking them to one side.
Ryan had pollarded my pear trees in the French style 2 years before. This had increased the harvest and also lowered the canopy for easier access to the pears. It was time to do it again so they were shorn. However, take care with this pruning style, as this is not recommended for many types of trees. Pruning the trunk may weaken the new branches and may shorten the life of the tree.
The mandarin and kaffir lime didn’t need much attention, just shaping. We did manage however to harvest heaps of fruit and made some home made lemonade to enjoy in the afternoon and still had a big bag to send home to Ryan’s kids.
My olive tree has grown to be a huge beauty and Ryan had begun balancing and shaping the growth of this tree over the last 4 years. We had a large branch overhanging the gutters and roof line and another couple over the neighbours roof. After they were pruned back to the trunk, the tree looked amazing – really sculptured. Of course this wood is also incredible for smoking meat, so these branches went on the pile too!
Lastly, Ryan trimmed all the hedged lilly pillies, Syzygium smithii, so we ended up with quite a pile of branches to haul out the front where the wood mulcher was parked. He had placed a red warning triangle on the street so cars and people coming around the corner were aware of the machine at work. Ryan briefed my DH about Health and Safety rules such as using correct eye and hand protection, as well as mufflers to protect his hearing. This machine makes a real racket!
After feeding in the branches, the spout on the machine spits out the shredded wood and leaves into the back of the truck. I looked at the mound of offcuts and thought that it would produce a huge amount of mulch. Surprise, surprise – barely 5-10 cms depth in the rear of the truck. Ryan had a mate that needed heaps of mulch, so off it went to that good cause.
The rest? Well, that is neatly lined up in the backyard ready to be stacked in the garage for drying. Summer BBQs here we come!
**DH = Darling Husband