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Living Smart: Tree Care

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By Angie Hicks

• Other reasons to prune trees include removing branches that hang over or brush against the house or block visibility near streets and intersections. Also, it’s wise to remove branches that cross and rub against each other.

• The right pruning techniques will help the tree develop strong roots so it can weather the storms. Pruning is also a great way to enhance the shape and stimulate fruit production.

• The best time to prune is in the late fall or winter, when sap isn’t running, so the tree is less stressed. Because in many parts of the country insects are dormant at that time of year, pruning in late fall or winter helps prevent infestation.

• In many cases, pruning is best left to professionals, but if you do it yourself, be sure to cut branches at a node, or the point where the branch connects to another branch. The cut should be just outside the ridge of bark that develops at this intersection. Angle the cut down, creating as little branch stub as possible.

• Avoid topping. Many arborists and other tree experts frown on the practice of tree topping, which involves the removal of large branches or the tops of trees. The practice can significantly damage a tree if too much is cut. If tree topping has already occurred, experts suggest that the tops continue to be cut, since, as sprouts emerge, the area is prone to insect damage.

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