Tree trimming and pruning is one of the toughest tasks in lawn maintenance, with a high likelihood of mistakes when performed by an inexperienced trimmer or lawn service. Not only do these mistakes make your trees look horrible, they can also cause permanent damage and even kill your trees in some instances. Since tree trimming is such a careful and skilled procedure, many home and business owners seek tree service from reliable professionals.
Whether you’re planning to perform the trimming and pruning work yourself, or you’re thinking about hiring a tree service expert, here are the most common mistakes you should be aware of.
Topping the Tree
Topping is perhaps the most harmful tree trimming practice, and unfortunately, it is still a common practice of inexperienced tree trimmers and even some tree service companies. Topping involves removing the top of the tree or cutting back on main branches, often because the owner feels the tree is too big. Topping can lead to stressed trees, decay, insect and disease infestation, and safety concerns due to the risk of limbs falling. Red flags should go up if your tree service company recommends topping. There are other ways to deal with overgrown trees, and topping produces more harm than good.
Not Trimming at the Right Time
Tree trimming is an art that requires not only skill but also precise timing, and it is this knowledge that often leads home and business owners to seek out a professional tree service. For example, Texas oak trees should not be pruned from February to June because of the risk of spreading oak wilt disease. Similarly, west facing branches shouldn’t be trimmed in the hot summer months because of the risk of sunscald damage. The type of tree, the season, the location and the condition of the tree are all factors a tree service professional will consider when deciding when and how to perform proper tree trimming and pruning for your trees.
Cutting at the Wrong Spot
When an inexperienced person trims a tree limb, they often believe they should get as close to the trunk as possible, cutting flush with the trunk to remove the entire limb. This is incorrect. Every branch has what is known as a collar – an elevated bump where the trunk intersects the branch. The collar is made up of specialized cells that can help the wound heal after the branch is cut off. Therefore, when you cut off the collar, the wound cannot heal. As a result, insects, disease and pests can enter the trunk, damaging and even killing the tree. Experienced tree trimming professionals know the right spot to cut in order to remove the branch while preserving the health of the tree.
A final tree trimming mistake is over pruning, the practice of removing too much of the tree at one time. Tree service experts say that you should only remove as much as 15-20% of a tree at any given time, and many strive for a lower amount closet to 5-10%. When you trim too much, you impair the tree’s ability to produce and transfer food, stunting the growth of the tree. By over pruning, you’re also opening up too many wounds on the tree, increasing the chances of sunscald and spreading disease. The impact of over pruning can negatively impact the tree all year long.
Now that you know the most common tree trimming and pruning mistakes, you can avoid these mistakes and their negative impacts if you decide to trim your trees yourself. Knowing how difficult tree trimming is, you may also decide to hire a professional tree service in which case you know what to look for and can spot the signs your tree trimmer does not have adequate knowledge and experience. If you are going to pay for professional tree trimming, you should expert your tree service company has extensive experience and can deliver professional results.