Do Branches Move Up as a Tree Grows in Reston, VA?

It’s not uncommon for a question to pop into your head as you look at a tree in your yard or further away down the street. For example, do branches move up as a tree grows? Will those branches you duck under while out on your walk ever move up higher?

Dos Amigos Tree Service, the top-ranking tree service company in Reston, VA, will cover the answers in this blog post.

Understanding How Tree Branches Grow

Trees generally grow from the top. The ends of the shoots and branches feature specialized cells known as meristems.

You can think of meristems as growth areas around the tips of branches and tree trunks (or shoots), which help them get taller and longer as time passes — as long as the tree gets all the nutrients it needs.

If you shave off the meristems from the top of the tree, that trunk will never grow taller.

This may feel counterintuitive to anyone who has seen the grass grow back after mowing their lawn. However, grasses and smaller shrubs grow from the bottom. The cut blades will grow taller, but the trimmed ends will remain as injuries.

The growth mechanism is different for trees. So, do branches move up as a tree grows? No. Since trees grow from the top, any branches that grow out of the trunk will technically be “left behind” as the tree grows.

So, if the tree branch in question appears six feet from the ground, it will remain six feet from the ground years from now when the tree has grown up to 60 feet.

What Happened to the First Branches You Noticed on Your Trees?

Reading the fact that tree branches don’t move up as a tree grows will have you wondering what happened to those first few branches that grew out from your trees.

There is only one explanation (assuming you didn’t prune the branches away): the tree shed the branches as it grew taller.

Trees shed branches for two main reasons.

Better Resource Allocation

Healthy trees need all their branches contributing to the process of photosynthesis. However, as they grow taller, the lower branches will begin to receive less and less sunlight which means they become unable to contribute to the process of photosynthesis.

After a while, the tree will shed those branches that are now too shaded from the sun to ensure better use of its resources and energy.

Reduced Risk of Tree Diseases

Lower branches are susceptible to problems such as fungal infections or pest infestations because they are too close to the ground and the root system. When these branches are at risk of infecting healthier parts of the crown, the tree will shed them to stay healthy and also prevent root damage.

What Should You Do About Tree Branches Too Close to the Ground?

Since tree branches don’t move up as a tree grows, you may be wondering what you can do about those problematic low branches that have become a safety hazard or a bridge for pests.

The right thing to do about them is to call a certified arborist to help you prune them safely. Otherwise, you can wait until the tree sheds them — but that may take years, and it’s not guaranteed depending on the tree type.

Get Expert Guidance From Your Local Tree Experts

Do branches move up as a tree grows? In a word, no. If you need assistance with errant branches or tree removal services, contact Dos Amigos Tree Service today at (703) 300-6103 to schedule a consultation.

Want to learn more? Check out our article answering the question, “Do tree limbs grow back?”

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