Clearance + Structure

With the help of the Friends of the Urban Forest crew I managed, I pruned this lovely Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) in Noe Valley last year. I wanted to relieve some of the weight over the driveway and street to provide city-mandated clearance. Structurally, this had an added benefit of decreasing the weight on these already too-large lateral limbs. It’s necessary to not focus purely on clearance without understanding the importance of a structurally sound tree. The Chinese elm species tends to have heavy branches that can sometimes be weak or poorly attached, that is why it is critical to prune often during establishment. This particular individual was only six years old at this pruning and had already been visited three times to ensure a stable structure.

This is a strawberry tree (Arbutus ‘Marina’) I pruned a couple years back in the Portola neighborhood. This particular species tends to get very dense foliage which can create issues for parking and pedestrians alike. I also tend to see very wavy branches which can make it hard to encourage an upright structure. When working with urban trees, industry practice is to encourage a strong central stem to serve as a stable base for the other branches. With early pruning and a good eye, I was able to achieve comfortable clearance and a more stable long-term structure for this young tree.