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A Guide to Trimming Your Trees

If you have a home, chances are that you have at least one tree on your property. Trees can provide shade, beauty, and fruit, based on the type of tree that you have. But sometimes they need to be pruned and trimmed.

It’s important to note that there are right and wrong ways to trim trees. If you do it right, you can help your tree stay healthy. If you do it wrong, it can be detrimental to your tree’s health.

Below is a guide to help you know how to correctly trim your tree.

Reasons to Prune or Trim one of your trees

There are three main reasons that you want to trim a tree – aesthetics, health or safety. Below are some explanations of why this might be a good idea.

Aesthetics – When you prune your tree, you are effectively helping to maintain the tree’s appearance and shape. But you should not try imposing a size or shape that’s unnatural on your tree. When you do a lot of pruning to your tree, it could end up damaging it severely.

Health – Sometimes you need to trim a tree to save it from a disease that it has. When you prune away affected limbs and branches, it can help your tree live when it otherwise may have died. Thinning the tree’s crown will improve its airflow, and this can be quite beneficial. If the tree’s branches are rubbing together or crossing, you should trim them so they won’t unexpectedly fall.

Safety – When your tree has broken or dead limbs or branches, you run the risk of them falling off unexpectedly, and this can pose a big safety concern. If there are branches and limbs blocking your vision while you are driving, they need to be trimmed. Branches and limbs sometimes will grow and come really close to the utility lines. If this happens, call your utility company and they’ll handle these types of issues.

General Tips for Tree Trimming

No matter what kind of tree, there are some general things that you should remember when you are trimming your tree.

  • Do it while dormant – The best time that you can trim your tree is during the tree’s dormant season. This is a good rule to follow unless there’s a problem with the tree’s health or there’s a safety concern.
  • Check the branch’s size – Before you remove a branch, check its size. If the branch has a diameter of less than 5 centimeters, it’s okay to remove. If the branch is 5-10 centimeters, think twice. If it’s over 10 centimeters, you shouldn’t do it unless you have an excellent reason.
  • Check angles of branches – Look at the angles of the branches. Look for branches with V-shaped, weak narrow angles. The branches that have u-shaped, strong angles should be kept.
  • Do it while they’re young – Do your best to prune the branches when they’re young. They’re a lot easier when they’re young and you’ll have a lower risk of leaving scars on your tree.
  • Be careful of where you trim – Don’t trim your branches too long or too close. You shouldn’t remove the collar of the branch or leave a huge stub.

Tips for Pruning Your Trees

The techniques and tips below are going to help with guiding you if you plan on pruning one of your trees or you simply wish to become educated regarding the typical techniques for maintenance and care with tree trimming.

Thinning the Crown

If it becomes necessary to thin out the crown of a tree, there are a few things that you should remember.

  • Make sure lateral branches are kept evenly spaced, particularly when it’s a young tree.
  • Prune away the branches that are running against or crossing other branches.
  • Don’t remove more than ¼ of your tree’s living crown all at one time. If it’s necessary, take a few years to do it to keep your tree healthy.

Raising the Crown

So that you can give clearance for signs, pedestrians, and other things, it’s possible to raise your tree’s crown by pruning your tree carefully. Make sure that you’re maintaining live branches upon a minimum of 2/3 the height of your tree. If you are removing a lot of branches close to your tree’s bottom half, it’s possible your tree won’t be able to develop a stem that is strong.

Crown Reduction

Sometimes you have to reduce your tree’s crown. Here are some tips for doing it right.

  • If it’s necessary to remove over half of your branch’s foliage, simply remove that entire branch.
  • Only reduce your tree’s crown if it’s truly necessary. Prune the lateral branches which are a minimum of 1/3 the diameter of that stem you’re removing.

Techniques for Tree Trimming

Below are a few more techniques that you can use when you are trimming a tree.

  • Before you make a cut, search for the collar of the branch. This grows out from the branch’s stem tissue at its bottom base. Search for your tree’s branch ridge. This is on its upper surface, parallel to the angle of the branch at the tree’s stem.
  • Always cut on the outside of your branch’s bark ridge, angling the cut down as well as away from its stem. Don’t’ injure the collar of the branch.
  • Use this technique for pruning living branches and dead branches.
  • If the stem’s too long, a technique called three-cut can be used. Create a notch upon the stem’s side which is facing away from that branch being retained. Then make another cut inside the branch’s crotch and above your branch’s ridge. Your third cut is going to remove that nub because it cuts through that stem, and this is parallel to your branch’s bark ridge.

Conclusion

Keep these tricks and techniques from this tree pruning guide in mind before taking on the task of pruning and trimming your trees. You will find that your trees are much more beautiful and healthier and that you can enjoy them a lot longer.

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