Ever see a limb just drop from the tree for no apparent reason? If you live in a wooded lot with old growth trees, this is probably a common occurrence. Have you wondered why certain old trees don't have any branches for the first 20 to 40 feet of the trunk height?

Well, as trees such as mighty oaks grow over decades and decades, the higher branches soon cast a heavy shade on those below. Eventually, if a branch is denied light, it cannot support leaves. Without leaves, it cannot pull water up from the roots so it must die. At this point, the tree forms a partition zone at the trunk and, in effect, cuts off the branch. It will soon begin to rot and eventually drops to the ground under its own weight.

Fortunately, although the branch may hurt something as it falls, it does not hurt the tree. To avoid smashed fences, flower beds...or worse, keep an eye on the lower branches of big old trees and have them removed once they no longer bear any leaves.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.


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