November 21, 2014
By Chad Simmons, ISA Certified Arborist Tx-3676A
Who doesn’t like the Spring flower, Summer shade and Fall color of the Bradford Pear? It gained popularity with Landscape Architects in the 80’s for a new medium size, fast growing shade tree with little known pest and disease. Although it lives within the same growing zone and originates from China, it has provided numerous homeowners with headaches and an extra expense due to the improper pruning techniques.
The trees lack a central leader (decurrent) and form weak unions with multiple limb attachments along the trunk. Raising the canopy extends growth to the limbs end, decreases damping effect when the wind blows, and increases limb failure, especially if a little snow or freezing rain appears. Other attributes not know until now are cotton root rot and bacterial leaf scorch. A tree that just keeps giving.
So where do we go from here? Removal is always and will be the end result within the 20 year window, if nothing is done. By this I mean root collar excavation for girdling roots, aeration with deep root fertilizations, and crown reduction to maintain a smaller size tree. Sometimes a little goes a long way in keeping a fast growing shade tree health and safe within a landscape.