After historically hot temperatures in Oregon this year, many people are wondering how to take care of their trees in the aftermath. Many trees were scorched or experienced drought this summer. Normal summer heat takes a toll on trees, but when there is a bout of extreme heat, they’re affected even more. After a heatwave, trees may become brown and crispy, so it might seem like pruning them to get rid of the dead parts would be a great idea. When your trees look wilted it can be pretty tempting to get in there with the garden shears to clean it up. But don’t do it! At least, not yet.
Knowing when to prune trees in Oregon can be tricky, so it’s always a good idea to talk to a certified arborist if you’re unsure. Here are a few pointers to get you started caring for your trees, especially after a hot summer.
What Is Pruning?
Some people might confuse pruning with tree trimming or tree shaping. While they all remove various parts of the tree, each is a different process that serves a different purpose. While tree trimming might be needed a couple of times a year and involve removing overgrowth to prevent excess growth in the future, tree shaping involves an expert understanding of how the particular tree will grow over time and respond in various weather patterns. Shaping the tree is also different in that it improves the artistic appearance of the tree to make your property more attractive.
Pruning, on the other hand, usually only happens once annually and is the careful selection and strategic removal of branches from a tree in order to promote healthy growth and protect the tree from hazards, such as extreme heat. It can also be beneficial for the tree to cut off any branches that are dead from lack of sunlight and any diseased or pest-infested parts of the tree. Stopping the spread of infection by intentional pruning can increase the tree’s longevity.
Routine pruning is also essential, as effective pruning promotes a tree’s health and increases its ability to flower or produce fruit in the future blossoming seasons.
When To Prune Trees In Oregon
Because pruning is a more aggressive form of tree care, involving a trained expert from a professional tree care company, such as Mr. Tree Services, is important so the tree isn’t accidentally harmed. Inexperienced pruning can make the tree more vulnerable to the elements and can stunt its growth. This would be especially bad during hot weather. “So, when should I prune my trees, then?” We’re glad you asked.
Pruning should always wait until the regular time during the year that is best for the specific type of tree. The particular time of year will vary based on the species in question. For instance, trees that normally flower in the summer need to be pruned in the winter months. For trees that generally blossom in the spring, pruning is safest and most effective in the autumn months. A tree professional will be able to advise you on the optimum pruning time for your geographic location.
Why Shouldn’t I Prune Yet?
Because pruning is an invasive process, it can actually damage the tree further and stunt its growth if it’s done too aggressively or while the heat is still raging. Resist the urge to prune when the weather is still hot or even when you think the heatwave has passed. Even in the best conditions, pruning can increase the tree’s susceptibility to infection from disease or pest infestations.
Pruning can also increase the aesthetic appeal of your trees or shrubbery. Wait, isn’t a dried-out, brown-leaf-filled branch exactly what pulls down the curb appeal? Yes, it is. However, because pruning causes temporary wounds to the tree, exposing the inside of the tree during times of extreme heat will dry out the tree even more and cause internal damage.
The wilted and brown leaves are still necessary for taking in the sun’s rays to undergo photosynthesis, which is how the tree processes nutrients. Even when the leaves look like they are dead, they are actually converting the sunlight into nourishment. Cutting off leaves will diminish the tree’s ability to produce food, which means it might die or suffer more long-lasting damage from the heat.
What Should I Do Instead?
Prioritize watering over pruning while you’re waiting in dry months. When the weather is extremely hot, efficient watering is crucial to the tree’s long-term health. How much water is needed depends on the age of your trees. You’ll want to water young trees more thoroughly because they have less developed root systems. Older trees require deeper watering to penetrate beyond the surface of the soil to be able to reach the roots. It’s also important not to overwater because tree roots need to breathe, so avoid completely saturating the soil.
When watering, avoid sprinkler systems that waste water by spraying it into the air to evaporate before it can even reach the surface, let alone the roots. Instead, use a drip irrigation method or surface watering, like a hose or bucket with holes, that will allow water to gradually seep out into the soil. Especially for older trees, ensure that you water at least a two-foot radius away from the base of the tree.
Using mulch will help prevent moisture from evaporating in the summer heat. Be sure to water your trees at the coolest times of day, usually the morning and evening, making it more likely the water will reach the roots to keep the trees nourished in the heat.
Our experts at Mr. Tree Services in Portland, Oregon, are available for a free consultation call. We know there’s a lot to consider. Our certified specialists can give you advice so you can be confident about all your tree care needs, especially after extreme heat. While you may not know when to prune trees in Oregon, we do, and we’d love to help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at your property.