Does the term CODIT (pronounced “code it”), mean anything to you?

Most likely you’ve never heard of CODIT—most people haven’t. It’s a term used by well-informed arborists to describe how a tree responds to pruning wounds and other physical damage. It’s a concept that should be well-integrated into a tree service’s approach to managing the trees on your property.

What is CODIT?

The acronym CODIT is short for compartmentalization of decay or damage in trees. It is a term used in the tree care industry to describe the processes that occur when a tree is wounded—whether by mechanical injury or simply the pruning of a branch. It is the natural process that isolates damaged or diseased areas from healthy tissue surrounding the wound.

Its purpose is to resist or prevent the spread of pathogens into the wood exposed by the injury. It also functions to separate a branch that has died from the living portion it is attached to. In essence, it resists the entry of decay-causing pathogens into the exposed wood.

How effectively a tree responds to pruning wounds is determined by the size of the cut and the position of the cut. If it’s too close to the trunk, the response is less effective, and decay is likely. If a large branch is cut to a stub, decay will spread down the branch, weakening its structure.

In the strictest sense, trees don’t heal a wound. They simply close wounds if they’re not too large, and form a protective barrier (compartment) behind the injured wood. Trees that are poorly pruned are more prone to decay and less stable. So, the bottom line is how a tree is pruned makes all the difference.

CODIT & Tree Maintenance

So why should you care about how a tree resists decay? First, trees have value. They improve property values, provide shade, and many other environmental benefits such as reducing energy usage. The larger the tree the greater the benefits.

Trees, like any other investment, require maintenance to maintain reasonable safety. Tree longevity and safety are diminished by poor, sub-standard pruning practices that can initiate decay, sometimes leading to branch or whole-tree failure.

The concept of CODIT is supported by scientific research and accepted by professional arborists. The CODIT concept is still not used by some tree services, who are not fully aware of its importance. I have seen countless examples of pruning mistakes during my career, and the impact that they can have on tree health and safety. The useful life span of trees is shortened when the current pruning standards aren’t used.

When pruning a tree, several things should be taken into consideration. Sometimes it is the weight distribution of the tree, the light distribution in the tree or simply the aesthetic value of the pruning. Regardless of the desired outcome, the best placement of a pruning cut using the CODIT model should be on the forefront of the practitioner’s mind.

Ask your Tree Care Specialist about CODIT

I recommend that the next time you hire someone to prune your tree, inquire about what they know about industry pruning standards and CODIT. This may enable your tree to endure decades longer than at the hands of someone who doesn’t understand CODIT’s importance.