Trimming and pruning are two of the most prevalent tree care procedure. While forest trees thrive quite well without pruning, landscape trees demand a much higher level of care to keep their structural integrity and beauty. It should be done with the correct understanding of tree biology and proper techniques. Poorly trimmed trees are prone to damage and shortened lifespan.
When Do I Prune?
Routine pruning, especially with the goal to eliminate dead, diseased, or weak limbs, can be done at any time of the year. As a rule of thumb, growth and wound healing take place better if a tree is pruned just before the growth flush. However, be aware that some species can bleed sap when trimmed in the late winter.
Do I Need a Professional?
In most cases, yes. Some trimming activities can be safely handled by property owners, but heavy limbs and ones located in higher areas may need sharp cutting tools. This can be very dangerous for someone without proper knowledge and skills and may result in injuries and property damage. If the tree is near power lines or may come in contact with a building, it is smart to call for the experts.
What Tools Do I Need?
- Hand shears- this is useful for smaller branches and twigs.
- Lopper shears- offer more leverage when cutting branches with less diameter.
- A pruning saw- effective in cutting limbs of 6 inches in diameter or less.
- A chainsaw- makes it easier to work on larger limbs of more than 3 inches; not ideal for small limbs due to its crushing effect.
- Pole-pruners- allows you to cut limbs and branches overhead without the help of a ladder.
- Safety goggles and hard hats- protect your eyes and head when cutting branches overhead.
- Cut the branch if it does not go over 2 inches in diameter.
- Think twice before cutting a branch that is between 2 and 4 inches in diameter.
- Only cut a branch of over 4 inches in diameter if you have a valid reason behind it.
- Do not trim more than a third of a tree’s crown.
Never Top a Tree
If there is something you should never do to your tree, that is to top it. Topping is the unsystematic cutting of limbs that can lead to the growth of weak branches emerging from the cut. Topping has a lot of detrimental effects on a tree, including shortened life span, vulnerability to diseases, and breaking. They are also safety concerns for people and property and need more upkeeping than other healthy trees.
Should I do Something with the Wound?
The short answer is no. Trees have a way to close an injury that doesn’t require human intervention. A tree suffers from hundreds and even millions of cuts and injuries throughout its existence. It has a mechanism of compartmentalizing an injury, so it doesn’t affect the entire tree. Some researchers found that putting seals in the wound can do more harm than good and slows down the process of healing and wound closure. One way to help the wound close properly is by using correct pruning techniques and employing clean and sharp tools whenever you perform tree care.