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How trees react to pruning can cause them to be less stable in the wind

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When I visited Dallas ten years ago, almost all large trees had been pruned with the interior sprouts and suckers removed – then the standard recommended pruning practice which was believed to make trees less susceptible to wind damage. Also, many people liked the aesthetic look of the perfectly clean inner branches. But trees have a balance between their living woody structure and their needs for carbohydrates which their leaves produce through photosynthesis. They react to this severe internal pruning by adding lots of small leaf covered shoots at the ends of branches -an effect referred to as "lion tailing" which it resembles. New research reveals this actually makes the trees become susceptible to damage from strong winds especially as we expect stronger and more frequent hurricanes. This may be the time to have a certified arborist inspect your trees.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.