Nightmare On A Elm-Lined Street

It’s pruning season! Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. The vast majority of pruning should be undertaken in the spring, but there is the majestic American Elm tree that line so many of our boulevards can only legally be pruned from October 1st until April 1st. 

The reason for this somewhat odd pruning window of time is due to the threat of an insect called the Elm Bark Beetle. The Elm Bark Beetle feeds on Elm trees from spring until fall and spreads a devastating pathogen called "Dutch Elm Disease" that rapidly kills the trees. Many regions of North America have lost all of their American Elms, but thanks to our relative remoteness and vigilance by various groups who are passionate about these beautiful trees, we have managed to dodge a bullet…so far.

Since Elm Bark Beetles can be active from April until October, and are attracted to open wounds on branches and trunks, the seasonal pruning ban means that winter pruning is necessary on elms that require pruning. While the big pruning jobs should be left to professional arborists, you can prune the odd small branch in your yard if you can do it safely, and if you have the right tools.

The one tool that I absolutely love and is fabulous for pruning elms, or any trees for that matter, is the Corona pruning saw.

It’s razor sharp and never jambs on either forward or backward strokes, plus it’s curved to reduce damage to other trunks and branches that might be in the way. I’ve cut 20 centimetre wide maple branches without any problem, and when you’re done cutting the blade simply folds into the handle.

The biggest challenge that I have with this tool is to refrain from pruning everything in sight!

~Jim Hole