by Joe Loftus, CEO of Loftus Tree Service, LLC

Lion’s tailing is a common practice all along Mississippi Gulf Coast shore line. It is a pruning process where the interior branches of a tree are skinned, leaving a plume of leaves at the end of lateral or horizontal limb. This process is sold to the customer for a number a reasons:

It allows sunlight in to grow grass,

It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but unnatural to the tree.

It provides job security to a tree service. They don’t have to train employees how to prune a tree, “just skin it”.

However, while this practice may look nice, it is an unnatural and deteriorates the health of the tree.

If you want your children and grandchildren to enjoy the trees for decades. they must be pruned.

Trees pruned in a lion’s tailing fashion weakens the tree in various ways. Pruning the interior limbs causes the limbs to stimulate growth toward the end of the limbs, which ultimately unbalances the weight of the tree.    This makes limbs more likely to snap in high winds. The tree will also go into a survival mode after being skinned of its limbs. Within 6 months to 1 year, it will develop suckers throughout the entire tree, where limbs once were. This ensures job security for the tree services, but it comes at the expense of the tree.

Additionally, the tree gets stressed out from having more than 25 percent of the canopy improperly pruned. Buds called epicormic lay underneath the bark and begin to grow. Because of the stress, it goes into survival mode. The tree needs sugars and starches from the process of  photosynthesis.

This is the conversion of light energy into chemical energy to fuel the tree’s growth.

Finally, transpiration is the process of the air and sun pulling water through the roots of the tree and is released as vapor through the leaves. This cools the plant and pumps water and minerals to the leaves for photosynthesis.

So when a tree service skins all the interior branches and leaves, it deters this process. This subsequently weakens the health of the tree and allows the bark to get sunburned.

Have you ever noticed on a hot day how much cooler it is underneath the shade of a tree? Transpiration is the reason. So while this tree is trying to cover, other natural stress factors (drought, too much water, lighting strike) can cause it to be unhealthy.

But they’re your trees and you can pay whomever you want to skin them or you can higher a certified arborist and have them pruned in the proper way according to ANSI A300 Approved American National Standard.