Following a few
simple basics will greatly benefit your trees
Trimming trees at the right time
You may have
heard the old saying about tree trimming that goes something like
this "Trim trees anytime your saw is sharp." This may be true
when it comes to removing broken and dead branches, but in many
cases timing is very important.
Trimming flowering trees: "Timing, timing, timing!"
Most flowering trees
set their blossoms the year before they bloom. Therefore, they won't bloom if these
flower buds are trimmed off the tree. The best rule is to
always trim flowering
trees within 3 weeks of when they finish blooming. That should
prevent you from inadvertently removing buds containing next year's
Removing this Weeping Cherry branch in the
of the year removes
the branch AND
the 'flower show' for next Spring
A few other trees that shouldn't be pruned
at certain times of the
year are listed below:
- Maples trimmed at certain times of the year will "bleed"
or drip from the pruning cuts. Bleeding is most likely to occur
when Maples are prunied in the seasons just before and right
after winter. Studies indicate that "bleeding" doesn't
hurt the tree, so it becomes more of a cosmetic issue. If you want to prune
Maples without bleeding,
it must be pruned when it is fully dormant in the middle of wwinter, or
during late spring or summer when it's in full leaf.
- If you trim Dogwoods in April or May, it will make them more
susceptible to the dogwood borer. This insect severely damages the vascular system
of the tree after boring into the trunk.
- Oaks should be not be
trimmed from April thru October, due to the prevalence of Oak Wilt disease
pathogens during that time frame.
Severely cutting back major branches causes weak growth in the
form of multiple branches that grow straight up,
natural structure of the tree. These fast growing shoots are
known as 'water sprouts.' Similar shoots, called 'suckers,'
grow from the
roots of some trees, especially Crabapples
This Silver Maple was
'Topped' a few years ago
Our number one choice of "trees not to plant" is Silver
saccharinum). Their rapid growth may be desirable to some for the
first 20 years, but after that most homeowners are forced to make a
decision; trim-it or remove-it. Unfortunately, the decision is
usually to trim-it using a method known as "topping." Topping
creates a "hat rack" appearance and forever ruins the branching
structure of the tree. A profusion of weak growth known as "water
sprouts" is created at each cut. Where there was once a well-formed
branch, there are soon 5 or 10 sprouts that grow straight up, faster
than ever. Homeowners are then forced into the vicious cycle of
topping the tree again, every few years.
Remove overgrown silver maple trees and plant a more desirable tree
Trimming trees in the right place
One of the biggest pruning mistakes
is cutting off branches in the wrong
place. Amateurs tend to leave too much of a stub when
removing branches. Once the stub dies off, it
creates an entry point for disease pathogens and destructive insects.
Unlike human beings, trees don't regenerate tissue. While
our skin replaces itself, trees grow new tissue around
wounds and compartmentalizes them. Once a a tree
compartmentalizes an old wound, it has a much better chance
Efforts should also be made not to wound
tree trunks with lawnmowers, tractors and other machines. Trunk
wounds create opportunities for destructive fungi.
A natural defense system is built into trees, in the swollen area at
the base of branches,
known as the "collar" -- right where the trunk intersects
the branch. Flush cuts are
important to make, provided you don't remove
the collar. Proper pruning cuts should be made just beyond the collar,
leaving a stub, but still leaving the swollen area.
Two branch cuts (bottom of photo) are already walled off with
callus tissue, while the long branch stub (top left in photo)
is preventing callus
tissue from closing over the wound
Removing a tree branch
Steps for sawing-off a tree
one or two feet from the trunk, make an undercut one-third
of the way up through the bottom of the branch. Your saw will get pinched
if you cut too far up.
- Make your second cut
completely through the branch from the top
side, about three inches out the branch from your first.
should allow the
branch to fall away without tearing the branch bark into the
Safe - Never do tree trimming or removal work that should be done by a
professional. Heavy tree branches can seriously injure you
in a split-second!
Never use a ladder for trimming trees. This is asking to get hurt!
Tie into the tree in 2 places, using professional grade equipment
1) Use a safety line through a strong crotch
in the top of the tree
2) The strap on your saddle (designed for tree climbing).
Be sure to properly "notch" a tree trunk
when you are felling it. Kickback can kill you!
Take a class in chain saw safety and operation. Wear
safety chaps lined with material that will
protect your legs.
Eye protection and a hardhat should be worn (also wear ear protection).
- False economy --
Hire a professional for jobs you can't handle -- it's really
not worth getting seriously hurt, or damaging expensive
property, just to "save money."
While these branch stubs might make good steps
up to a tree house,
they should be removed for the health of the tree. However, leave
the swollen area at the base of the branch (known as the
"collar") and don't paint the cut.