When we trim our trees, we often remove branches and foliage without considering if we’re damaging the tree. Unfortunately, most of us are guilty of bad tree trimming practices. However, we don’t have to be. Our trees often outlive us, and we owe it to them to provide the healthiest life possible. Thus, we’ve listed seven mistakes homeowners make when trimming their trees in the hopes that you won’t.
There’s a wrong and right way to do everything. Here are seven things you shouldn’t do when you trim your trees.
1. Using Dull Tools
Of course, sharp tools make tree trimming go quicker. However, speed is not the only reason to use sharp tools when trimming trees.
Sharp tree-trimming tools also help cuts in trees have crisper edges that callous over and heal faster, which is healthier for trees. When dull tools create ragged cuts that don’t callous over, the exposed tissue releases phytochemicals that attract insects to the exposed, distressed tissue.
2. Using Unsensitized Tools
Before you start your pruning project, you will want to clean any soil and sap left on your tools. While there are some horticultural products available to sanitize your cutting tools, here are some products you can use that you probably already have:
- 70% isopropyl alcohol
- Ethanol alcohol
- Chlorine bleach, diluted to a 10% solution with water
You will also want to be sure to sanitize your tools between trees. Cleaning tools between trees can prevent your tools from carrying disease from one tree to another.
3. Pruning at the Wrong Time
When is the best time to trim trees? The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests this schedule for most trees with some exceptions:
- Evergreens: Late winter to early spring during dormancy and before new growth begins
- Pines: Early June to early July
- Shade trees: Late winter to early spring
- Spring-flowering trees: After they flower
Pruning on a mild and dry day can help prevent spreading waterborne plant diseases and prevent cold-temperature damage. How often should you trim trees?
- Mature trees: Every 3-5 years
- Younger trees: Every 2-3 years
- Fruit trees: Yearly
- Evergreen trees: After several years
4. Pruning Too Much
How much of a tree is safe to remove at one time? The amount largely depends on the tree’s age:
- Younger trees: No more than 25%
- Middle-aged trees: No more than 20%
- Mature trees: No more than 10-15%
Always cut as little as possible. However, always cut less if your tree is dealing with environmental stresses like drought or soggy conditions or is sickly. If you have an older tree with these issues, it may not survive heavy pruning.
5. Making Bad Cuts
Not every cut you can make on a tree is the same. Some can do more harm than good. Avoid making these pruning mistakes:
- Stub cuts: Stub cuts are when the end of the branch is left long enough that you can hang something from it. A stub cut doesn’t allow a tree to seal off from disease.
- Flush cuts: Flush cuts are when you cut flush against the tree without leaving the branch collar. Not having a collar prevents the tree from sealing with a callous.
- Heading cuts: Heading cuts remove branches at random points, sometimes on a large, structural branch. These cuts leave the tree open to insects and disease and also stimulate the tree to work more to create weaker branches and leaves.
6. Topping Trees
Tree topping or “rounding the crown” is the drastic removal of the top of trees and is one of the worst things you can do to a tree. Tree topping can have several adverse results:
- Reducing the tree’s ability to photosynthesize and feed itself
- Creating wounds that require energy to close and remain open to disease and decay
- Damaging a tree permanently with indiscriminate pruning
- Depleting stored energy which reduces root growth
- Reducing energy storage capacity which leaves the tree susceptible to disease and infestation
- Slowing a tree’s growth
- Resulting in early death
7. Not Getting the Help of a Professional
Tree trimming is different than keeping hedges and plants trimmed. There are far more than seven things to know about trimming trees. Knowing what to do and not to do can make the difference between your tree staying healthy and having a long life or not.
As tree limbs grow larger and trees grow taller, falling branches and ladders can pose a safety risk to an untrained professional. Professional tree trimmers have the proper tools and experience to keep your house, your property, and you safe during a tree-trimming session.
The Next Step
If you have doubts about what to do or how safe your next tree-trimming project might be, it’s time to contact the professionals at Tree Removal Edmonton for a free estimate. Their experts have years of experience pruning Edmonton trees for aesthetics, tree health, and safety.