The Q&A Archives: River Birch Tree

Question: This past spring, I had A River Birch planted on my lawn. The tree seems fine. However, the tree has some branches down low that are long and arching to the point that they're touching the lawn and some surrounding bushes. These twigs can't be more than 1/4" in diameter. Is it o.k. to cut these twigs off? If so, what precautions against inviting disease should I take. Also, should I coat the cut edge on the trunk of the tree?

Answer: In most cases tree wound dressing is no longer recommended. The tree is branching according to its normal pattern and this is nature's way of helping to shade its roots and thereby conserve moisture. It would be better to leave them in place if possible. The lawn will not grow well under this tree in the long run, so allowing it to be shaded out might be the path of least resistance. The surrounding shrubs will most likely also have a hard time competing with the tree for light, water and nutrients so you might consider allowing them to either blend naturally with the tree or transplant them to a more suitable location. Keep in mind too that ultimately this is a rather large tree.

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