When Should I Prune my Aspen Tree?

Expert insight into the best time to prune an aspen tree; why aspen tree pruning is important, and how to identify common aspen tree diseases.

The aspen tree is a fast-growing UK native deciduous tree which is very common across Europe, Africa and Asia. It is an incredibly striking and attractive tree, thanks to its leaves that shimmer and appear to constantly tremble in the breeze. Its Latin name, Populus tremula, literally translated means ‘trembling poplar’ and the tree is also known as the ‘quaking aspen’. The leaves transform from bronze in the spring through to a rich golden yellow in the autumn, and the tree is very important for wildlife, providing a habitat for numerous insects including the endangered Aspen Hoverfly.

As a specimen tree, the Aspen is a popular sight in woodland, gardens and parks and can grow up to 25 metres in height. Its trunk may take on a dark coloured appearance in maturity which is due to it becoming covered in lichen, and its higher branches often bend over horizontally.

Why prune an aspen tree?

Most specimen trees, including the aspen, do not need regular pruning, but they do benefit from shaping in order to maintain the best possible appearance.

The aspen tree, like many others, will also benefit from the removal of damaged, diseased, congested or crossing shoots which can affect the overall health of the tree and again, its appearance.

Suckers are also an issue for the aspen tree. These regularly appear from the root system and present something of a nuisance as they have a habit of growing into a separate plant, which then competes with the main tree for light, water and nutrients. Suckers need to be removed in such a way that the chance of their regrowth is reduced. If suckers are left to grow out of control, it may lead to the entire tree having to be cut down.

When is the best time for aspen tree pruning?

If you need to carry out shaping of your aspen tree, the best time to do this is during the winter outside of its active growth cycle. This will prevent sap bleeding, which can lead to disease.

If you need to carry out sucker removal, do this during late autumn or winter.

If you discover dangerous or precarious branches at any time during the year, you should go ahead and carefully remove them without delay.

In all cases, consulting with a qualified tree surgeon is the best move. They will be able to provide you with tailored pruning advice based on your individual tree, its condition and its environment.

What to look for when pruning an aspen tree

The aspen tree is susceptible to various fungal diseases. Look out for sunken, dead patches of bark and small holes in the leaves (bacterial canker); yellow, orange, brown, black or white coloured pustules on leaves and sometimes other aerial parts (leaf rust); dark spots or blotches on leaves, premature leaf fall, aborted flowers and shrivelled or scabby fruit (poplar scab); decaying roots, white fungus between wood and bark, rhizomorphs and sudden death (honey fungus); and silvery leaves and branch dieback (silver leaf disease). If you spot any of these issues, consult a qualified tree surgeon immediately.

Tree Preservation Orders

You should never go ahead with any tree work until you are certain that there is no Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in place. If there is, you will require permission before proceeding which can take up to eight weeks to come through. Furthermore, if the tree is located in a conservation area, permission must be gained before commencing works of any kind.

The importance of aspen tree pruning expertise

The aspen is a beautiful tree. If you want to preserve its attractiveness and secure its long term health, you will need to ensure great care is taken over it.

Tree surgeons are experienced in detecting diseases and pest infestations in all species of trees. They know how to treat these problems and also have in-depth knowledge of the best pruning methods, and the best time to use them. If you are in any doubt as to how to best care for your aspen tree, it is advisable to seek professional assistance. Always be sure to carefully check the qualifications and references of your chosen tree surgeon.

If you have an aspen tree that needs pruning, why not contact Tree Works? As fully qualified and highly experienced Trading Standards and local authority approved tree surgeons, we can deliver specialist expertise across all areas of aspen tree pruning. For a free, no-obligation quotation, contact our helpful experts on 07781 416 354 or get in touch here.