Tree Thinning Part 1 – February 2016

It’s the end of February which means that Spring is just around the corner. Here in the Tri-Cities, Spring time is synonymous with “blowing wind”. If you have tall trees on or around your property, you will want to be mindful of how to properly thin your trees to keep them safe in blustery conditions.

Trees are trimmed and thinned in numerous areas because tree owners believe this is what should be done to trees, or they like the appearance of a thinned crown, or it’s a normal method of trimming in the region. Parts of the Tri-Cities where thinning is rarely practiced do not appear to experience more storm-related tree damage than regions where thinning is common.

Thinning is conducted on large or small trees for a number of other reasons. Although entire-tree thinning can be useful, structural pruning should be considered before the entire crown is thinned. In fact, structural pruning is probably the best way to thin. A strategic approach would be to structurally prune to reduce defects, then thin to shape and balance to the desired crown aesthetics if maximum pruning dose has not been exceeded. Other than to avoid storm damage, entire-tree thinning of landscape trees is mostly an aesthetic practice that lasts only a short time.

Thinning removes limbs and branches from the end portion of trunks and limbs. Pruning cuts to thin the crown of a large tree typically range in size from one to five inches in diameter. For purposes of limiting damage from wind, cuts smaller than about one inch in diameter appears to be less effective. However, small cuts of one-quarter to one-half-inch in diameter can be used to thin small ornamental trees and citrus for aesthetics and other reasons. Proper thinning does not change the overall size of the tree.

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