Location: Outside the Maritime Pacific Northwest
Posted: Sep-11-2004 at 7:43am
Has anyone tried to prune an established, HUGE, walnut tree down to a more managable size. The canopy is blocking out 90% of the light in a friends back yard. The HUGE fig right next to it needs to be pruned back also, can this be done or should the trees be removed and start over again.
Location: Washington, Puget Sound Corridor
Posted: Sep-13-2004 at 10:37am
I talked to Mike Dolan of Burnt Ridge Nursery at the Oly Farmers' Market yesterday about your question. He cautions that both trees bare fruit on last years growth. He suggests that you might start with some pruning this winter. He recomends that you do the pruning in the summer from then on though so you don't sacrifice harvest as the tree gets smaller.
As with almost all pruning, you do not want to remove more than 30% of the wood volume at any one time. That means that this is a multi-year project to reduce the trees.
You might find some more info at the Plant Amnesty website such as:
Plant Amnesty's "My Tree's Too Big"
Location: British Columbia, Island
Posted: Jan-18-2005 at 5:09pm
Dusty, where do you live? I would be very interested in collecting some of your prunings to propagate new trees if you live nearby.
Location: Oregon, Greater Portland Metro
Posted: Jan-18-2005 at 5:21pm
Opabinia, Dusty has his region listed as "Outside the Maritime Pacific Northwest." You can find this info under Dusty's name to the left of the post.
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Location: Oregon, Western
Posted: Jan-18-2005 at 7:35pm
Your post reminds me of a huge Japanese maple (upright, not weeping) that a customer asked me about last week or so. Same basic goal. She was wondering about cutting it lower to get more light to the nieghbor's roses.
If her tree was topped out or cut back a lot, the result would have been many sprouts and thick growth that would have meant more shade (no real goal accomplished). So option "B" (the healthy option) was taken - that was to raise the canopy and thin the tree. That option will provide the most light, including more direct sunlight in late afternoon.
It really depends on the tree. And whether it's towering over the property line or not.
Regarding your question about whether anyone has pruned a huge walnut down to manageable size... I have not, but I have a photo of one that had that done to it, and a photo of the reversal, where we pruned to reverse the effect:
Tree Care Album / See #10 and #11
See number 10 and 11. Even without the treehouse, I think you can see how thick the tree became. This person wanted a garden underneath and to the side of the tree. It was too thick after topping. So much more light was brought in by thinning and corrective pruning.
It's not the size of a tree that makes it unmanageable. It's the loss of tops. The tops produce hormones that control the tree and reduce sprouting. Loss of tops means loss of hormones which means loss of control (unmagageable).
If the top is reduced, it need to be done moderately. The average person will not be able to do it right. But the average person can thin a tree relatively well with a bit of study and practice.
Lisa's information about fruit production leaves a fairly decent "choice A" and "choice B". Does the tree have a purpose? And do you want to preserve that purpose?