Hard-pruned trees like ‘stumps’

Mandy Dreadon, of Maryhill, inspects a tree recently pruned in her street. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Mandy Dreadon, of Maryhill, inspects a tree recently pruned in her street. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
A Maryhill woman fears a Dunedin City Council "cost-cutting exercise" could be the "beginning of the end" for the trees lining her street.

Scoular St resident Mandy Dreadon said council contractors had pruned too much of the trees lining both side of her street earlier this month.

She had lived in the street for a decade and each year contractors had "topped the trees nicely", maintaining a "pretty" appearance.

This year, hard pruning by the contractors had left some of the trees looking like "stumps".

"Now we are stuck looking at this - it’s terrible."

In past years, contractors had removed the "scruffy" foliage growing on the trunk, but it remains this year because it was the only leaves keeping the tree alive, Mrs Dreadon said.

She hoped the city’s trees were not the victim of a "cost-cutting exercise" as other streets were in a similar situation.

Council contractors had recently "cut right back" trees in Claremont St, Maori Hill, she said.

"If this is the beginning of the council cutting costs what is going to be its next move?"

She wanted the council to consult with residents before making any drastic decisions on the future of the trees.

"We are lucky to have a tree-lined street and we like that. ’

The street’s residents "would be pretty unhappy if this was the beginning of the end of our trees".

Council Parks and Recreation group manager Scott MacLean said the trees were pruned using a method known as pollarding.

The trees were cut back to its original, first pollard point, called a "knuckle", he said.

The height the trees had been pruned to would make them more efficient to manage in the future, he said.

The pollarding would lead to operational cost savings over time and ensure they did not encroach on overhead powerlines.

The trees would be more easily accessible — and less complicated to prune — especially when close to nearby electricity infrastructure.

The council intended to continue the annual pruning of the trees, and other trees across the city, he said.

"The priority being those trees underneath powerlines. Where possible, we will allow trees not at risk of interfering with electrical infrastructure to grow more naturally."



It's a shame the contractors haven't thought to paint the exposed cuts with appropriate sealer to prevent fungal and insect attack while the 'wounds' heal. Borer beetle will be on flight in the next few weeks looking for somewhere to lay their eggs.

Sealing cuts can actually have the opposite effect. It can seal is moisture and promote fungal disease.
Though it used to be recommended, research by Alex Shigo of the U.S. Forest Service in the late 1970s and confirmed by later studies now means its not something you should do.

Thanks for that AJ, I was not aware of the latest studies. There are a lot of 'organic' products on the market, I had thought that anyone of the better tested ones woud be correct for at least keeping the borer out. Back in the day, these sorts of products weren't available. Commercial pruning was done in spring so that the wound would heal over quicker, the sap would seal out moisture, however, boring insects were always a high risk. I stand corrected :)

It surprised me too when I found out. Always thought covering the cut would be the best option. BIt like blood-letting in the old days. Everyone knows that's what you do ... till someone actually checks :-)

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