By knowing the basics about tree trimming and tree pruning, you may be able to handle the majority of this kind of work yourself. There are a variety of great trimming tips and pruning techniques that can help keep your trees in excellent shape. With the right knowledge and equipment, you can prune your trees as necessary to maintain their appearance and health and to eliminate potentially dangerous dead branches and other common issues.
Reasons to Trim or Prune a Tree
Trees are generally trimmed for one of three purposes: aesthetics, safety or health. For example:
- Aesthetics – Pruning a tree effectively helps to maintain its shape and appearance. However, you shouldn’t try to impose an unnatural shape or size on a tree. The amount of trimming and pruning that will be needed could seriously damage it.
- Safety – Dead or broken branches and limbs can fall off at any time, which is a serious safety hazard. If the branches of a tree obstruct your vision while driving, they should be trimmed away. Finally, tree limbs and branches occasionally grow too close to utility lines. Contact the utility company to handle such issues.
- Health – It is sometimes possible to save an infected tree by strategically pruning away affected branches and limbs. Thinning the crown of a tree improves airflow, which can be very beneficial. If branches are crossing or rubbing together, they should be trimmed so that they don’t fall unexpectedly.
General Tree Trimming Tips
- It’s almost always best to trim or prune a tree during its dormant season. Although you can technically prune a pine tree at any time, it is still better to do so when it is dormant. The only exception is when a hazard exists.
- Be conscientious about the size of the branch that you are going to remove. If it is less than five centimeters in diameter, removing it is fine. If it is between five and 10 centimeters in diameter, you might not want to do it. If it is more than 10 centimeters in diameter, you should only do so if you have a really good reason.
- Only trim branches that have weak, V-shaped, narrow angles. Retain branches that have strong, U-shaped angles. >Lateral branches should be between one-half and three-quarters the diameter of the stem at point of attachment. Otherwise, they should be removed.
- When pruning is complete, the ratio of living crown to tree height should be two-thirds.
- Try to prune away branches when they are young. They are much easier to manage at that point, and the risk of leaving nasty scars is much lower.
- Don’t trim a branch too close or too long. You shouldn’t leave a large stub or remove the branch collar.