Hat Racking-Tree Pruning
The Village prides itself on its beautiful landscaping. How we maintain our landscaping is important, and appropriate maintenance can reduce our impact on the environment. Trees can be pruned to address safety and visibility while maintaining their structural integrity. Proper tree pruning allows trees to grow into normal, mature landscape features and is also required by the Village’s Land Development Code which states:
Required vegetation shall only be pruned to promote health, uniform, and natural growth of the vegetation and be in accordance with American National Standard for Tree Care Operations … Trees shall not be severely pruned to permanently maintain growth at a reduced height spread. Pruning shall not interfere with the design intent of the original installation. Severely pruned trees shall be replaced by the property owner. Replacement trees shall meet the tree size requirements of this section. A plant’s growth habits shall be considered in advance of conflicts which might arise (i.e., views, signage, overhead power lines, lighting, circulation, sidewalks, buildings, and similar conflicts).
Improper Pruning Methods:
Tree topping and severe crown pruning are a threat to trees. This type of pruning is known as hat-racking, rounding over, poodle tailing, overlifting and lollipopping. These methods weaken the tree structure and can cause their eventual demise. Examples are:
Removing the canopy of a healthy tree has consequences far beyond the cosmetic damage. This tree will never recover from this hat-rack. A hat-racked tree loses all its ability to make food, since its green, chlorophyll-containing food factories, the leaves, are removed.
Rounding Over (Edward F. Gilman, Environmental Horticulture Department, University of Florida)
Not only was this tree rounded over with heading cuts, but too many branches were removed from the interior of the canopy. This causes stress, reduces energy storage capacity, initiates decay and often results in many sprouts.
Lion’s-tailing and poodle-tailing push all the growth to the tips of the branches causing them to become longer and shifts the center of gravity away from the trunk. This means they are more susceptible to wind, which results in breaking. When there is too little foliage, the tree becomes stressed, which decreases the ability to resist disease and insects.
Hurricane-Related Tree Care:
Hurricane Tree Pruning
What has been referred to as “hurricane pruning” is not a correct method and is a form of tree abuse. Hurricane pruning generally involves topping or hat-racking a tree to “prepare” for a hurricane. This method actually weakens trees and makes them more prone to toppling over in a storm. Beware of tree trimmers who may try to take advantage of homeowners, with no identifying information.
Learn from Experts:
There are many sources of information for proper tree and landscape maintenance. Use the following links for more information:
Village of Estero: https://estero-fl.gov/landscape
University of Florida: Pruning – Gardening Solutions – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ufl.edu)