What Happens If You Cut Too Many Branches off a Tree?

Your DIY pruning job was going great – or so you thought. A step back reveals that your cuts left your tree looking a little… thin. What happens now? Is all hope lost? Will it grow back?

While over-trimming can result in loss of your tree, it is not always the case. There are a few factors to consider:

The branch collar is the part of the tree where the branch meets the trunk. It typically looks like a swelling or bump. This part of the tree contains specialized cells that help heal the wound and allows the branch to grow again.

Removal of the branch collar, by cutting flush to the trunk, opens up a wound that can allow entry of disease and pests, putting the survival of your tree in jeopardy.

Another way you can accidentally cause your tree to be susceptible to disease and pests is with bark tears. If you do not take the right precautions when trimming large branches, they can fall and peel away the bark, or cause tearing and splitting. Exposing the trunk underneath opens a pathway for unwanted intruders, leaving your tree vulnerable.

If trimmed branches were not already weak or diseased, they should be able to produce new growth. However, you may not see evidence of this in the first year or two after over-trimming.

You should never remove more than 15-20% of a mature tree’s foliage at one time. Usually, only 5-10% is actually necessary.

Removing too much at one time hinders photosynthesis, the process needed to produce nutrients to keep your tree fed and healthy. Loss of all of a tree’s foliage makes it difficult for it to regenerate quickly.

In the meantime, you may need to provide some extra care with nutrient-dense mulches or fertilizer to help it grow.

A diseased or dying tree poses a safety concern. Damage to the structural integrity means the next bad storm could knock it right over, causing damage to yourself or your property.

Unless you are an arborist yourself, it can be difficult to know whether your tree will survive. Call an expert in your area to come assess the damage. An experienced arborist has seen it all and will be able to tell you whether your tree needs to be removed, or if you can nurse it back to health.

If the tree can be salvaged, they will likely know the best way to encourage it to grow back.

Don’t let a pruning mishap kill your favorite tree. Trust the experts at Appalachian Tree Co. Inc. for all your pruning and trimming needs! With over 30 years of experience caring for trees all throughout Maryland, you can be sure yours will receive the best care.

We perform hazard reduction pruning, as well as crown cleaning, overall restoration, and more! Our experienced arborists assess your tree, developing a plan of action to keep it healthy and intact, if possible.
Contact us today for tree service!