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It seems like every time we bring arborists onto a property, the first thing they want to do is to remove all the deadwood from the tree canopies. What are the reasons for doing this, and is it really that important to the health of the trees?

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    What trees? Around here, some trees will rot out if the deadwood is left on, but heal over fast when trimmed. Other trees tend to drop deadwood and break live branches. Most trees are fine with it (other than as a possible habitat or entrance point for something evil). – J. Musser Jan 5 '15 at 22:50
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Sometimes its important for the health of a plant, particularly if the dead wood is infected in some way, but more usually, it's a matter of aesthetics - if you're asking a professional to come and sort out trees or large shrubs, the first step is to remove anything that's dead to 'clear the decks' so to speak, then carry out some judicious pruning and reshaping as necessary. I certainly spend a lot of time in new gardens pruning out old, dead wood from rose trees, first because they look better and second, to ease congestion of the living stems.

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