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Tree and Shrub Pruning 101: An Interview with Sean Chirone of Appalachian Tree Service of Atlanta, Inc.

By Sean Chirone

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

ATS was founded in 2004 because Dave Rohde and Ryan Strache felt residents of Metro Atlanta deserved a higher-quality, more experienced, yet more affordable tree care company. At ATS, our philosophy is that there should be a more holistic and comprehensive approach to tree care. As we see it, pruning and removal should be done for a good reason, as determined by a qualified diagnosis. We also believe in great customer service and impeccable clean up.

Services We Specialize In Doing:
Tree Removal
Crane Assist Tree Removal
Hauling (add-on service only)
Stump Grinding (add-on service only)

What's one of the biggest mistakes that people can make when it comes to pruning their trees and shrubs?

1. Topping a tree.
2. Not cutting limbs back to a growth point.
3. Doing it themselves, which creates high risk, dangerous situations.
4. Removing too many limbs.
5. Allowing a climber to spike the base of the tree.

Can you briefly describe what pruning is and why it's important?

Pruning is the selective removal of plant parts to meet specific goals and objectives.

Some of the objectives of Pruning include:
Reduce risk of failure
Influence flower and fruit production
Provide clearance
Improve view
Reduce shade and wind resistance
Improve aesthetics
Maintain or improve health
Increase life span

Pruning Basics and why NOT to top trees:
Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of a tree, no branch should be removed without first establishing clearly defined objectives. Several pruning methods can be used to meet the desired objectives.

Heading cuts are used on the trunk and/or large-diameter branches of trees to reduce height or spread. This substandard practice, called heading or topping, is not recommended because it damages trees permanently. Heading large-diameter branches causes many problems, including massive decay in many species and many dead branch stubs.

Here are some major problems directly related to heading (topping) trees in the landscape:
Decay and cracks in the cut stubs;
Depletion of energy reserves and a reduction in energy storage capacity;
Destruction of tree architecture and structure;
Vigorous sprouting with weak attachment;
Unnatural and unappealing appearance to many people;
In the long term, more cost than structural pruning or thinning;
Possible damage to trunk and branches from sudden sun exposure;
Inhibition of root growth;
Increased susceptibility to boring insects, canker, and root diseases;
Possible mortality;
Susceptibility to future storm damage;
Even though crown density is initial reduced, it is increases quickly after pruning.

Removing the correct stems and branches to accomplish specific goals is as important as making correct pruning cuts. If the wrong branches, or too many branches removed, even if proper pruning cuts are used, nothing of merit has been accomplished.

Pruning goals must consider tree growth and development and the effects on the tree over the long term.

When should pruning usually be done in most yards?

If you don't remove more than 30% of a tree at one time then you can prune year round. This is a general rule since Cherry trees and Crape Myrtles can have a lot more than 30% removed at a time and be fine.

Do you have any other pruning tips for homeowners?

If you are going to attempt to do your own pruning Strictly adheres to the ANSI 300 standards for pruning. You can learn about these standards on the Tree Care Industry Association website. Here is a direct link to their pruning page:

If a tree needs regular pruning to keep it small, perhaps the wrong species was selected for the site. Some times removal is the better option instead of pruning.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

By phone or email. We can also receive text messages through our business line. You can also fill in a service request through our website. We offer free estimates too!!


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