Landscaping this spring? Where you cut your tree can impact the rest of its life

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FARMINGTON, N.M. — It might not feel like spring just yet, but that doesn’t mean spring isn’t on its way. Monday is the official first day of spring.

It’s this time of year, right before everything blossoms, when you should be thinking about landscaping your trees.

“This is a good time of year because they haven’t broken dormancy quite,” said Aiessa Thomas, a certified Arborist with the ISA.

Thomas said there are different methods to groom your tree, but some are more harmful.

“Tree topping is something that is not optimal for a tree’s longevity or health,” Thomas said.

That’s when you take off over 30% of the tree by making large cuts to central branches.

“The tree doesn’t have the ability to heal itself- there are special cells right here in the collar that are especially designed to wrap around the wound,” Thomas said. “The longer that wound stays open it’s more suspectable to pests, disease, getting in there and harming the tree. Also, when you’re making large cuts you’re kind of taking away the tree’s ability to feed itself.”

If too many branches are gone, there won’t be enough leaves for photosynthesis.

So, instead of removing large portions of the tree, the best thing to do is to prune, which is to take off smaller branches.

“It’s like training a puppy, you can kind of train a tree to grow the way you want to,” Thomas said. “This branch, once it gets bigger, I know he is going to swoop down and he going to kind of be in people’s way. So, I am going to go ahead and prune him back to this bud and hopefully get him pointed back in the right direction.”

And if you’re planning on planting a tree, it’s always important to think long-term.

“I don’t want to have to top them, I don’t want to have to make those heading cuts because they are in a spot where they can’t get very big so I pick a small tree to put there, like in this nice grassy open area I can pick a big tree and let it just open up wide,” Thomas said.

Thomas added every year, San Juan College gives seeds out to the community in celebration of International Arbor Day.