Occasionally we are called upon by our clients to remove healthy limbs from trees. These limbs can appear to be a hazard to our clients because they may be hanging over a roof or wires. Perhaps they just drop messy apples onto their lawn. What ever the reason, we can appreciate their concerns; however, as Certified Arborists, we have an ethical obligation that will not allow us to perform an act that is detrimental to the health and or appearance of a tree.
There are alternatives available such as Cable Bracing and Fruit eliminator sprays that once completed, can give peace of mind regarding the situation with which they are faced. The Certified Arborist will detail such alternatives on a proposal for the clients consideration.
It is Kramer Tree Specialists, Inc. policy not to remove healthy large limbs if the limb diameter exceeds 1/3rd of the trunk diameter. If the healthy limb diameter is less than 1/3rd of the trunk diameter and the cut wound will be less than 8” diameter the removal can be performed without detriment caused to the tree.
A Word About Why
Several articles and books have been written regarding the effects of wounds on trees. It would be impossible to go into the necessary depth to properly explain all the ramifications that a large wound has on a tree.
A brief summary: When large healthy limbs over 8” diameter are removed the tree can not protect itself against infection soon enough and decay will begin. Trees do not have the ability to heal themselves like a humans skin can heal itself after a cut. Trees can only wall off infections, compartmentalizing the infection within the tree. A tree has a branch protection zone located just behind the Branch Bark Ridge. This zone is a layer of cells whose function is to harden off the wound. When a large wound is created, as it is when a large healthy branch is removed, the tree can not harden off the large area soon enough and decay starts to set in. This is usually visible in the very center of the face cut. The tree may still encompass the edge of the wound with bark, appearing to have “healed” the wound, however, the decay inside continues to grow, degrading the structural integrity of the trunk of the tree.
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