Lateral Tree Pruning Prevents Tree-Utility Conflicts
Trees are prized possessions. They give needed shade in summer, help clear the air of pollutants, provide a home for wildlife and please the eye with their foliage and blossoms.
Trees help make our area beautiful, but they are also a leading cause of power outages. Here are a few effective ways Tri-State EMC works with customers to balance protecting trees with providing safe, reliable utility service.
Most Effective Method
TSEMC and its contractors are encouraged to use the lateral pruning method recommended by the National Arbor Day Foundation, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and National Arborist Association. Lateral pruning removes branches where they meet the closest lateral branch that is at least one-third the diameter of the original branch outside the minimum clearance zone, and is growing away from the electric line.
If there is no lateral branch to prune to, however, the limb must be removed at the tree’s trunk. That leaves a healthier tree with no stub to decay and prevents the growth of weak sprouts.
Proper pruning may mean removing branches beyond the minimum clearance distance determined by TSEMC. If the closest proper size lateral branch is farther away than the minimum clearance, the extra pruning is healthier for the tree.
By directing growth away from electric lines, lateral pruning results in less future pruning. This method reduces the visual impact and the cost of pruning. Holding pruning costs down helps save customers money in the long run.
In the past, trees were commonly pruned by topping, or “rounding over.” Research shows, however, that it encourages wood decay in the large remaining stubs and promotes unhealthy sprouting around the stubs.
The sprouts from “rounding over” also grow much faster than normal growth. As an example, silver maples normally grow about two feet per year. The sprouts induced by “rounding over”, however, average more than six feet per year. The sprouts also grow faster than their attachment to the stub, creating weak branches that are more likely to break than normal growth.