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Prune a silver birch tree

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Silver Birch Tree Pruning: Getting the Timing Right

When is the best time to prune a silver birch tree? Why prune a silver birch tree? What are the pests and diseases that commonly affect the silver birch tree? Read on to find out…

The silver birch (Betula pendula) is a popular UK native tree that is very important to our ecosystem. It is a very attractive tree with distinguishing cascading branches and silvery white bark.

This is a tree that will grow up to 30 metres in height and can spread to at least 8 metres. The open canopy is the perfect environment for plant life growing beneath, so you will often see beautiful wildflowers such as bluebells, violets and wood sorrel growing around the roots. The silver birch is a haven for insects; birds love the seeds and woodpeckers and other hole-nesting birds are big fans of the trunk.

The silver birch puts out very deep roots that draw in otherwise inaccessible nutrients. As it sheds its leaves, the nutrients are recycled into the soil, making the surrounding area a very rich place for other plants to thrive.

Why prune a silver birch tree?      

Silver birch trees don’t really need anything more than light pruning to remove any dead or diseased branches which should be done on a regular basis. This will pave the way for healthy new growth.

If your silver birch tree has branches or shoots that are congested or rubbing together then it is a good idea to remove those to promote good air flow and to keep the tree healthy. This is best done during the tree’s earlier years.

You should also remove any parts of a silver birch tree that have been subject to pest damage so as to prevent it spreading across the rest of the tree.

There may be occasions when a silver birch tree has outgrown its space or is blocking light, or where branches are too close to the ground and are causing issues with landscaping. In these cases careful pruning at the right time of year is a wise move. It is however vital to ensure that over-pruning is avoided. This can lead to rot pockets which weaken the tree.

When is the best time for silver birch tree pruning?

Silver birch trees are prone to bleeding high volumes of sap as they wake from their winter dormancy. Sap attracts insects which, at certain times of the year, lay eggs. If these eggs are allowed to infect pruning wounds, the results can be catastrophic. Serious diseases can be spread in this way.

Silver birch tree pruning should therefore be carried out between late summer and early autumn.

Always think: under-prune don’t over-prune when dealing with a silver birch tree. Be conservative. Always seek professional advice from a qualified tree surgeon if you are ever in doubt.

What to look for when pruning a silver birch tree

Never attempt to prune a silver birch tree that is home to nesting birds. This is an offence.

When pruning a silver birch tree, look out for signs of leaf rust. You will see yellow, orange, brown, black or white pustules on the leaves. Birch dieback is also a major problem and is caused by fungal pathogens, although the issue is generally confined to planted birch rather than that grown naturally from seed. If you see branches dying off within the crown, then you should call in expert assistance without delay.

Tree Preservation Orders

Never go ahead with the cutting back or removal of any tree without first checking whether a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is in place. If there is one then you must make an application to the local authority for permission to proceed with the work and this is likely to take up to eight weeks to be granted. Also, if the tree is located in a conservation area, you will need official permission before undertaking works of any kind.

The importance of silver birch pruning expertise

If you want to make sure your silver birch tree is properly cared for then do not do anything without the assistance of a professional tree surgeon.

Tree surgeons are qualified professionals who know how and when to prune silver birch trees and are trained in identifying and dealing with the common diseases and pests that affect them.

When choosing a tree surgeon, ensure they are able to present you with checkable references and certificates to back up the qualifications and knowledge they say they have. Also ask for sight of their insurance documents so you can have total peace of mind that you are covered for the work being undertaken. Finally, where possible, engage a tree surgeon with Trading Standards and local authority approval for a guarantee of quality and value.

If you have a silver birch tree that requires pruning or you would like to get an opinion on its health, why not get in touch with T.H. Tree Services? As fully qualified and long term experienced Trading Standards and local authority approved tree surgeons, we are able to provide specialist knowhow across all aspects of silver birch tree pruning. For a free, no-obligation quotation, contact our friendly experts on 01268 642814 or get in touch here.

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