Birch – Badly Pruned

Q: I had my river birch pruned by a man who said he knew how to do the job. I just wanted it shaped and pruned in a normal manner. The tree now has only three main trunks, that’s it. Is this the correct way to prune a river birch? The man said that the tree will grow back just like a myrtle. Is this true? Coming from the north, I do not have any knowledge about this kind of tree.

A: I hate to disparage a fellow landscape professional …..but the picture shows that your guy is not a landscape professional – – he is an idiot!

I can think of no reason to prune a birch as severely as was done. If it was too wide or tall, he could have selectively removed offending limbs. Yes, the trunk will probably resprout, but the limbs will not be attached as strongly and the form of the tree will always look a bit off.

That said, I think I’d leave the tree in place and see what happens this first growing season. If you get strong regrowth, a knowledgeable person can shape the tree so it does not look so bad.

If the shape is too ugly to bear, you can replace the tree in September.

Ask your friends, neighbors and social group members for recommendations on whom to hire.

I’m sorry you had such a rude horticultural greeting to the South. We have plenty of knowledgeable landscape maintenance folks here. You were simply unlucky to get one of the few ignorant practitioners on your first try.