Preventative Maintenance – Why we are Wellnitz Tree CARE

Preventative Maintenance (better for the trees and your wallet)

Usually, when customers call us, it is for mature trees that have problems (too late for preventative maintenance). These trees are generally full of issues such as co-dominant stems, branches too close to structures, traffic, etc., crossing or rubbing branches, and general poor structure or form. There is plenty we can do, but often it takes a great deal of time and lots of cuts on the tree. This type of aggressive pruning may be necessary but is not ideal for older trees. Just like humans, trees take longer to recover from major surgical events as they age. We may have to remove large branches that are causing the problems. When a large cut is made on the trunk of a tree, it allows for the introduction of decay fungus. Often, the tree will never fully compartmentalize (heal) large wounds, and the life of the tree may be shortened.

There is good news, however, with a little bit of preventative maintenance, Wellnitz Tree Care can structurally prune trees when they are young, avoiding many potential problems. This allows us to use reduction cuts or removal cuts specifically prescribed to your tree, ensuring the tree has excellent structure as it grows. Good structure cannot be pruned into an old tree if the proper form is not already present. By pruning a young, tree we can make smaller cuts that will properly compartmentalize, and we can remove branches that will be problems in the future.

“Proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Trees that receive the appropriate pruning measures while they are young will require less corrective pruning as they mature.” ISA Trees are Good Website

The Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

Avoid Costly Problems (AKA Save Money!)

  • If trees are left unpruned or are pruned improperly, they are more susceptible to storm damage and canopy failure. Unpruned trees may develop weak branch unions, crossing branches, and co-dominant stems. If left long enough the problems might not be able to be corrected without causing major damage to the tree. Operations removing large diameter wood and huge amounts of wood cost more than young structural pruning, which can prevent most problems. Improper pruning such as lions tailing and topping can cause an increased risk of storm damage, increased decay, sun-scald, and sunburn stimulates new growth that is weakly attached and prone to breaking, destroys appearance and value, and disrupts energy storage. Pruning your trees early and correctly will save you LOTS of money in the long run.

    Pecan with co-dominate stems
    Pecan tree with co-dominant stems and included bark. This tree poses a risk of splitting. This could have been prevented if it was structurally pruned when it was younger.

Avoid Co-dominant Stems

  • A co-dominant stem is when a tree grows with two or more stems of same or similar size emanating from the same spot on the trunk of a tree. Think Bradford pear. This type of branch union is the main cause of canopy failure in trees. Once a tree is mature, co-dominant stems cannot be corrected without damage to the tree. Risk can be mitigated with proper weight reduction and possible cabling and bracing, but this is more expensive and time-consuming than proper pruning when trees are young. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way in ensuring the proper form of the tree for the rest of its life.

    Oak with co-dominant stems
    Top view of an oak that has three co-dominant stems and is beginning to split. The only options now would be weight reduction with bracing and cabling.

Improve Aesthetics

  • Trees that are structurally pruned when they are young will have more symmetrical shape and look better in the landscape.

    Hackberry with three co-dominate stems
    Hackberry with three co-dominant stems that are starting to split, and risk falling on the house. This could have been prevented if the tree was structurally pruned when it was younger. The split could have also possibly been prevented with weight reduction and cabling and bracing. Unfortunately, this tree will need to be removed.

Maintain Health and Increase Longevity

  • By pruning when the tree is young and vigorous the wound will compartmentalize faster, reducing exposure to decay fungus and insects.
  • Healthy trees live longer!
  • The risk of storm damage is also greatly reduced.

Preventative maintenance Trees Topeka Emporia
Large pruning wound that did not compartmentalize. This branch was growing over a house and was removed many years ago. Now there is a place for introduction of decay and insects. This wound could have been avoided if the tree was pruned when it was much younger.

Proper Structure

  • Trees with proper structure look nicer and have less likelihood of failure in storms.

Reduce Pests

  • When a Wellnitz Tree Care certified arborist is on your property to examine your trees, or while working on the trees, we may notice other issues like diseases or insects that need to be treated before they become a major issue. It is always easier (and cheaper) to treat problems when they are smaller rather than large.

Increase Property Value

  • “In one study, 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a ‘strong or moderate impact’ on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%.” Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests
  • “Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.” Management Information Services/ICMA
  • “A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
  • Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.” USDA Forest Service
  • However dead, weak, and dying trees will increase liability and can reduce home prices.



“City trees have to be maintained, just like other infrastructure, over their entire lifetime. The challenge is to give trees the (preventative) maintenance they need when they need it. If done right, this will reduce overall maintenance costs by huge amounts” (Alex Shigo Father of modern arboriculture).


Helpful Links:

Pruning young trees

Why topping hurts

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