What is directional pruning?

I got a notice on my front door last week from a tree company informing me that they were in the area to trim trees that were near power lines and that my property had one of those trees. The notice stated they would be performing “directional pruning” on the trees. I wondered exactly what that meant, so I checked it out on the internet.

Directional pruning means that whole branches and limbs will be removed from the tree at the trunk, so that as the tree grows the new growth will not be in the direction of the power lines. Also, the thinking is that the after directional pruning only the strong limbs are left, and that the new growth is less sturdy and less likely to fall off of the tree.

After reading about it I realized that the electric company had directionally pruned this same tree about three years ago. Ever since then it’s leaned to one side and looked like it is going to fall over. I met up with the tree company this afternoon around our neighborhood when I got home and I asked him if there’s any way they’ll take the tree down. I explained we’d spoken with four tree companies and none were willing to take it down. He said it wasn’t touching the wires anymore and he didn’t think so but he’d check. Man how we’d love that tree out of there.

One Reply to “What is directional pruning?”

  1. Hey Fact Master….directional pruning is really about pruning back to a branch collar (generally a fork). It is possible to directional prune a branch without taking it back to the trunk, but when working near powerlines, sometimes the proximity of the tree and the species makes this very difficult to do without leaving the tree with an unbalanced appearance. Appeal to the power company to remove the tree using the following logic:

    1. Keeping trees far enough from energized conductors so that the conductors will not be affected by vegetation contact (NESC Rule 218)
    2. Keeping trees far enough away from energized conductors so children climbing in trees cannot reach the conductors or swing the tree into the conductor (NESC Rule 012) and good industry practice. (strict adherence to NESC Rule 012 would imply removal of any tree within a right-of-way with branches sufficiently close to the ground, that one might expect people to climb – Allen Clapp’s DANESC UPDATE, Volume 4 Number 4)
    3. Keeping trees far enough from the lines so that after planned growth between trimming cycles, the trees will still be far enough away to allow safe trimming and removal of growth (ANSI Z133.1)
    4. Removal of 1/3 of the crown or more adversly affects the health of the tree and invites other pathological problems due to increased tree stress. While the needs of the utility ROW come first, they should not be with exception to tree health and appearance. In cases where proper clearance cannot be maintained (NESC Rule 218), the tree should be removed. ISA, UAA, and NAA.

    Good luck, be nice, and may the Forest be with you!

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