It's time to get a trim.
I’m not talking about a trip to the barber, I’m talking about a trip from an arborist. This is the best time of the year to prune your domestic trees. While the sap is low, more radical pruning can be performed with far less stress on the tree and allows for a stronger recovery in the Spring.
The International Arboricultural Society has strict standards when it comes to pruning trees. The ANSI 300 pruning guide outlines the requirements to ensure proper pruning and recovery. There are many companies like Niwaki Tree and Shrub that follow these ethical standards. However there are many more who have never heard of the ANSI 300 pruning guide and hack away with no regards to the health of the tree. In most cases the home owner has no idea of what constitutes good or bad pruning. Some of the most obvious poor pruning procedures is removing the branch collar and leaving a lengthy stub. I am sure you have trees in your yard right now that suffer from this practice.
The branch collar is the point where a branch joins the trunk or another branch. If pruning is done properly healing will completely cover the wound.
Improper pruning sets in motion the conditions for decay, rot and disease. In the photo on the right, poor pruning is indicated by the blue arrows. In this case the top and bottom of the branch collar was damaged or removed causing improper closure. Proper pruning requires time and effort to locate the branch collar and execute a suitable cut.