Photos & Text By: Maria Moore, NewHartfordPlus.com
At a recent meeting in Town Hall there was apparently a discussion of the effects of “skirting” (cutting off the lower branches) of spruces and hemlock trees in the town’s parks. Apparently, I was told, the input from a local arborist was that cutting off the lower branches of pine trees “…doesn’t harm the trees at all” and as far as making them less esthetically appealing “it all depends on what you like a tree to look like.”
Compare this to the input of an online gardener who wrote: “Never cut a healthy limb from an evergreen. I have never seen a tree treated thus that was not in some state of decline as a result. Cutting lower limbs off spruce is the worst offense. Spruce are designed so that the lowest branches, those that touch the ground, support the branches above, and so on, all the way to the tip of the tree.” Renegade Gardener- his ‘nom d’ordinateur’ (online nomiker) – goes on to say that during winter, the snowload collapses the branches, which is normally not a problem since the branches are designed to lock together. But remove the base branches, and then you will have created a problem: Without support from the cut branches, the lowest branches are stressed and crack and in a year or two they die.
With this contradictory input in mind, I took a walk at Brodie Park South this morning where half a dozen spruces and hemlocks had been “skirted” in the spring of 2011, before residents’ complaints put a stop to the cutting. This is what I found, 1 year and a couple of months later. Beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder, but when it comes to hiring someone to tend hemlocks and spruces, there’s no contest in my eyes.
To skirt or not to skirt the lower limbs from trees? Before the sound of chain saws is heard again at Brodie Park South, you may want to voice your opinion to the town’s selectmen, Rec Commission members and Conservation Commission members.