Avoid the Dangerous Lion-Tail Pruning Practice

The local Authority in Tree Care and Plant Health has put out a guide, informing the community of a pruning practice that has become increasingly common that an ISA Certified Arborist would never do.

The practice as explained is similar to the method of tree topping, which cuts off the entire top of a tree, except with Lion-Tail pruning, the tree is essentially gutted.

In this practice dangerous majority of the inner branches are removed during this process, as well as 50%-75% of the tree’s entire foliage. There remains only a small tuft of foliage on the end of the branch, resembling a lion’s tail—hence the name.

The intent and results

Usually, the homeowner’s intent is to reduce the number of leaves that end up on the ground. Unfortunately, because leaves are essential to the process of photosynthesis, poorly executed cuts and aggressive branch removal actually forces the tree into shock. Overcompensating for its loss, the tree rapidly produces an excess of new growth sprouts—called “suckers.”

Lion-tail pruning not only ruins the tree’s aesthetic, but also creates hazards. Aggressive cuts leave open wounds that don’t heal quickly, making it easy for birds and insects to transport diseases and parasites. The structure of the tree is also jeopardized. Instead of the weight being evenly distributed across the branch, it is now concentrated on the end, causing an unnatural amount of stress. This leaves the branches vulnerable to breakage.

Dangers of Lion-Tail pruning

● Unnatural weight distribution (End-heavy branches)

● Branch breakage

● Sun scalding

● “Sucker” growth

● Rotting and cracks

● Increased disease and insect vulnerability

Each Tree has Different Needs

Pruning is more than hacking away at a tree with a saw. It is a specialized procedure, requiring arborists to adapt their strategy with each tree in order to meet its specific needs. Aggressive pruning can cause aesthetic and structural damage to the tree, decreasing its ability to produce food, while increasing its susceptibility to disease and damage from storms.

Cumberland Valley Tree Service and Landscaping

ISA Certified Arborists (like those at CVTS-L) will bring the knowledge and skillset to ensure the beauty, health, and safety of the trees on your property. Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping employs multiple ISA Certified Arborists, adhering to the ANSI A300 tree care standards. CVTS is also the first TCIA Accredited Tree Care Company in the area.

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