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Trees Seal, They Don’t Heal

Driving to my shop the other day, I noticed a local school had hired someone to remove some low limbs from the trees on the school grounds. I’ve noticed this nice stand of Red Oaks for over a year now and agree that limbs needed to be removed. Taking low limbs off and determining the lowest permanent branch on young trees is important along with structural pruning of young trees. The problem that I noticed right away with the Red Oaks on the school grounds is that the cuts were not made correctly which will cause the trees to prolong the wound closure process by several years.

Example of improper limb cutting technique

These cuts that were made to the Red Oaks are what’s called “flush cuts,” meaning the cuts were made right through the branch collar and ridge—a mistake. It’s important to leave the branch collar so the trees can seal over quickly: if a proper cut is 3 inches in diameter, then on that same limb a flush cut will be 5-6 inches in diameter which adds years to the process. When you leave the branch collar on the tree, you’re really just working with the tree’s natural defenses and helping it to close quickly. Using pruning paint also slows down the wound closure process, which is why we discarded the paint can years ago.

The Red Oaks on the school grounds will hopefully close these large wounds by adding new growth before the decay moves too far into the main trunk of the tree, which would create a hollow, decayed main trunk that would make a nice home for a bird or squirrel. Red Oaks can add a lot of value to school’s property and the community for years to come, if cared for properly.

Cherokee Tree Care is available to give some quick tips on how to prune if needed. We are happy to direct you to the resources you need or even come to your site and give a quick demo to the DIY pruner. Feel free to contact us or give us a call!