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City tree pruning is responsibility of everyone

A young boulevard tree that was improperly pruned is shown with damaged trunk bark, poorly angled cuts, and branch segments left behind that are too long and will hinder proper healing. (John Zvirovski / The Sun)

As I was walking home the other day, I noticed all the tree trimming that has been done in various parts of town. I have heard all about the controversy on how trees are trimmed in town and how upset homeowners have become with certain processes. This is not just a problem in our area, but a common problem in most cities.

We have all seen the telltale trees that are trimmed to resemble a "v shape" to allow power lines to run through them. We have also seen where large trees are all trimmed on one side to allow those lines to pass alongside them or keep from hovering over a roadway.

When these trees are trimmed in this manner, they look quite ominous in their leaning state toward the homeowners' yards and often time their houses.

Many times I wonder who would be responsible in the event that a storm blew a leaning tree onto the owner's home.

Most likely an insurance policy paid by the owner would pick up the unfortunate repair costs, but in the big picture we would all pay for that type of damage.

The whole scenario has much more to do with education than it has to do with blame. What we cannot continue to do is repeat the same mistakes year after year, which never resolves the problem at hand.

Not only do these trees look horrible after trimming, it is a disgrace to the city beautification plan -- if there is one.

The underlying issue is that the majority of these trees that are being butchered are too large for the areas in which they are growing. If a young tree has to be trimmed back on the street side so severely that is distorts the shape of the tree in a negative way, the tree is too big for that spot. If there are power lines above, trees should not be planted beneath them.

These issues are both the responsibility of the city and the homeowners alike. The city should not allow large trees to be planted beneath power or utility lines. Not only is this just plain good common sense, it would alleviate wasting hard-earned budget dollars in unnecessary pruning year after year. The annual pruning is just not cost effective.

The city should also provide a list of trees that are acceptable to plant in narrow spots on the boulevard that will not require pruning. Once again, it will look much better overall and save a ton of money down the road.

If a homeowner's boulevard is beneath a set of power lines, it might be in his or her best interest to plant the trees on the house side of the walkway instead of on the boulevard. These trees would not spread into the street areas as readily and would not have to be damaged by the constant pruning of being beneath utility lines. It would be a win-win for all involved.

In the event that there are old trees on your property that have been trimmed back year after year and have lost any appealing look, the best course of action would be to remove that tree completely to prevent any further torment.

At this stage of the game, the tree has lost any redeeming quality that it may have had in the beginning. If you take a look at these trees in town, you will know exactly what I mean.

The young trees that I have seen along the boulevards and in the parks have also been pruned in a very poor fashion. To be perfectly honest, they look like an inexperienced person was trained for 15 minutes and then sent out with a chainsaw to the do the job.

I have seen damaged bark on the trunks of these trees, jagged cuts of young branches and larger branches that have been cut way too close to the trunk to heal properly. Others have 2 to 5 inches of the branch left behind, thus resulting in a dead stem that does not heal and may slowly allow rot to enter the tree's trunk.

Poor cutting of this nature also stresses the tree and allows disease and insect invasion to enter the tree in the years to come. Better education and proper training, along with a little more diligence in the trimming process will be much better for the overall look and health of the tree involved.

All branches that grow from the main trunk or stem have a bark collar around their base. This collar extends from the main trunk about one quarter to a half inch around the branch. It's where this bark collar ends that the branch should be cut. It allows for proper healing of the cut in a timely manner.

If the collar is cut off, the healing process has been hindered. If the branch is cut a few inches out from the collar, the wound does not heal and the branch dies back. Eventually this branch piece will die and fall out, leaving an open hole into the trunk. This is definitely not a desired result for a healthy tree.

It may take a little extra time to trim trees correctly, but it is well worth the effort to maintain healthy and happy trees for years to come. As far as the rest of the severe pruning throughout our city and many others, education and size-appropriate planting will have the best results in the years to come.

Let's not continue repeating the same mistakes, but it's time we make a change in how we do things and start making proper choices on all sides.

In the long run, it will definitely make for a more appealing look to our city along with saving money on budgets, making happier homeowners and creating healthier and better-looking trees.