Trees, like humans, have the necessity to slow down at certain points in their lifespan. When our bodies are sick or injured, the recommendation from a doctor is unequivocally to rest. Resting allows us to use energy to repair and restore, to become well again. The internal “system” of trees may function in a fundamentally different way than human bodies, however, the same principle applies. Tree failure happens when trees experience stress. Whether it is caused by insects or external damage, if a tree diverts energy to combat the stress, it has less energy for food production, growth, and the normal processes that allow for a natural lifespan.
Trees do not have the capability to make self-care choices like humans do when we are sick. The new stressor it is experiencing may come right as the season changes and it’s time for food production. A tree may also be at an age when continuing to put on new shoot growth every year is not beneficial to the tree, only causing overextended branches or an unbalanced canopy. A tree will continue to grow regardless of the ability to do so without compromising itself, until it simply cannot any longer.
As humans are often the catalyst for these external stressors on trees, people can also make these “self-care” decisions for the trees. We can be the agent for the tree and decide to inhibit the growth of the branches, so that the tree can continue to make food, while focusing more energy on compartmentalization, end-of-life rest, root growth or other methods of self-preservation.
As arborists, we have seen great success in using growth regulator in a variety of landscapes. Historically used for controlling the growth of shrubs and trees in a confined landscape (to prevent heavy maintenance), the benefits of this treatment have recently been seen in other applications.
Some of these benefits include: increased root system, increased disease resistance, increased drought tolerance, reduced stress and an improved appearance.
The reduction of the large woody material has the effect of reducing strain on the tree by conserving energy as well as inducing the growth of root system which collect nutrients and water from the soil.
Is this the right option for your tree? Is it a drought-stressed tree? (Probably) Is it nearing the end of its urban natural life? Has it been stressed by other factors like insect infestation or fruiting bodies? Does it hold great value to your property or have personal significance? Was a tree planted next to your dwelling and is growing too fast or perhaps was not the best selection for that area? In consultation with an arborist, you can decide if your tree meets the criteria for a good candidate for growth regulator.