Sep 23, 2017

Bradford pears have been a popular choice for ornamental trees since they were introduced to the US half a century ago. They are attractive and quick-growing, with an array of white flowers in the springtime and a tendency to stay small, side-stepping the issues involved with trees that eventually outgrow their space in a yard. Unfortunately, they have a tendency to start breaking after a few years. Tree Service in Atlanta

These trees’ have an inherent fatal flaw – included bark in the branch and trunk attachment places. The main branches start as seams in the trunk before dividing away from it at unusually narrow angles. As the branches grow, bark gets trapped in the connecting seams between the branch and trunk.  Many branches end up being attached by a very small amount of live wood tissue, creating a propensity to split.  Combined with their fairly soft wood, this means that high winds or increasing weight on a branch can easily cause it to break and split the whole trunk into two or more pieces as it comes down. While some trees do survive serious breakage, it is all too common for a split to destroy or seriously damage the trunk; even if it doesn’t collapse, the split leaves the tree vulnerable to infection as well as weakened and prone to additional breaks.

Careful pruning can reduce the risk of breakage and splitting.  The primary pruning objective should be to reduce the weight of the branch which exerts pressure on the crotch and splits the branch from the trunk.  Try to avoid resorting to tree-topping, since this will encourage rapid growth at the cut or cuts and eventually produce branches that are even heavier. Instead, have some of the many branches trimmed away, particularly those that are too close together or too narrowly angled towards the trunk. You’ll find that thinning out the branches will decrease wind resistance, allowing the wind to blow through the tree instead of putting pressure on the branches.

If your Bradford pear begins breaking, it’s unlikely to live longer than fifteen years, even though it should have a lifespan of thirty or more years. Pruning a Bradford pear thoroughly enough to give it a shot at surviving that long is a worthwhile undertaking, so it is worth consulting an arborist for the job in order to get a better understanding of how you can reduce the risk to your tree and enjoy its presence in your yard for years to come.