Tree Trimming and Pruning

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Tree pruning requires a steady hand, the right tools and an awareness of your own limitations. While gardeners can handle small tree trimming projects, large tree pruning is best left to trained professionals.

Reasons for Tree Pruning

People trim trees for three reasons. The first and most important reason for tree trimming is safety. Dead branches can fall and injure people, overgrown trees can obscure road signs and large branches can break during windstorms or become tangled in utility lines. After safety, tree health ranks high as a reason for tree trimming. A tree's appearance can also be improved with tree pruning, but aesthetics rank below safety and health in terms of importance.

Type of Tree Pruning

The most common types of tree trimming are crown raising, crown reduction and crown thinning. Each type of tree pruning has a specific purpose:

  • Crown raising removes branches from the bottom of the tree's crown that interfere with clearance and vision. A tree may have its crown raised to allow people to walk beneath it, or because low-lying branches obscure a driver's view of a road.
  • Crown reduction prunes branches from the top of a tree when the tree is too large for available space.
  • Crown thinning removes branches from the tree's canopy. The goal is to increase air movement and allow more light to penetrate the crown.

Tree Trimming Cuts

Bark tearing is a common tree trimming problem. As you prune, a branch's weight causes the cut to tear at the bottom, ripping bark off the tree and providing a possible entry point for fungi or other tree diseases.

Making three cuts instead of one helps prevent bark damage:

  1. Make a small wedge cut at the bottom of the branch.
  2. Further up the branch, cut all the way through. The wedge cut you made stops the bark from tearing, and you're left with a short stub of branch.
  3. Cut the stub branch parallel and close to the stem collar, where the branch meets the tree.

Tree Services, Pruning and Safety

Tree services handle tree-trimming jobs that are too dangerous to be handled by homeowners. Large trees should be pruned by tree services, as trimming a large tree often requires either climbing with sharp pruning tools or using a cherry-picker and chainsaw. Professional tree services understand how to prune large branches without endangering people or property.

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