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Homeowner’s Guide to Tree Trimming

Tree care includes different maintenance approaches to ensure their overall welfare. It includes fertilizing and watering them regularly to receive the right amount of nutrition they require to thrive. Pruning and trimming are just as integral as the other approaches when it comes to bush care. Pruning goes beyond keeping those plants in proper shape, but more importantly, it protects you and your property from any falling branches. Trimming of the woody plants demands knowledge and skills because it can either improve your condition or worsen it. To ensure you are doing it correctly, you need to know what, when, and the right way to trim it.

Why Trees Need to be Trimmed


Remember that not all woody plants need to be trimmed every year. For instance, conifers can thrive without being cut even once in their existence. On the other hand, deciduous ones necessitate trimming when they become hazardous, or their health is on the line.

It is vital to remove any branch impacted by a disease or infested with pests to preserve the one. Trimming damaged and weak branches are essential for better airflow and space for new ones. Dead and rubbing branches should be eliminated because they can fall at any time. Any part or limb in contact with a power line or building should be removed right away before it causes an emergency.

In most instances, the utility company will take care of trimming branches that touch power lines. Never attempt to carry out the task on your own because of the risks it involves. To prevent your plant from growing near utility lines, make sure to trim it early on.

Aesthetics is another crucial goal for trimming. This approach can keep the form and structure of the species in an attractive shape. However, keep in mind that it is never advised to prune a plant strangely. Instead of doing it right, it can harm its health.

Lastly, storm-damage-prevention is another reason to trim its regularly. suggests you cut your specimens every 3-5 years to move dead material and branches that could be risky in intense storms.

Set Clear Goals


Don’t start cutting just yet. Before you get your trimming tools, it is essential to set clear objectives for trimming the ones. Mostly, thinning, raising, and reducing plant species are the three most common and vital trimming goals.

  • Thinning

If your goal is to bring back your tree’s natural beauty, thinning is the way to go. Thinning eliminates any weak or damaged branches from its crown. By doing so, your bush will be free of old branches that prevent young ones from sprouting. When utilizing this approach, it is essential to note that branches and limbs should be pruned at their starting point.

  • Raising

This type of pruning is mostly used to free space on the lower part of it for pedestrians and fixed structures. In this technique, you should note the branches you need to eliminate and leave the particular untouched. With raising, it is imperative to leave two-thirds of its height and not remove too many branches than you should. Doing so will have unfavorable effects on it.

  • Reduction

Reduction aims to relieve the stress on the tree by eliminating foliage from the tip of heavy limbs. Crown reduction is not always necessary and should only be performed to keep branches from being damaged by the limb or branch’s weight. It is crucial not to trim beyond a third of the crown annually.

Choose the Right Season


If your tree put up from a disease or has branches that are a potential threat to your safety, you should not think twice and have it trimmed right away. More so, you don’t have to wait for any season to cut away thin branches off a tree.

It is encouraged to trim a tree in its dormant season because the cut heals faster, thus reducing infection risk. In the case of deciduous trees, it is best to prune it in the late winter or the onset of spring. If you have trees that flourish in spring, it is recommended to trim them after they bloomed. For the case of maple and birch trees, they should be pruned during mid-summer.

Spruce, fir, and pine and other conifers are best cut in the early summer. New growth for these trees varies each year, so monitor them as the warm weather progresses.

Every tree has unique needs when it comes to tree care. Thus, it is crucial to learn about each type to make sure you are pruning it right. For instance, it is best to note that Elm ones should be pruned before they bloom because they become susceptible to Dutch elm disease if not.

Know What to Cut

The reason and timing for pruning are as crucial as the proper timing to carry it out. One wrong cut can lead to the decline of the tree or even its death. Each cut you make is like a wound to it. Therefore, it requires healing so that it can recover and thrive. If you make a deep and broad cut, the time the tree needs are more extended than when you make a smaller cut.

After deciding on your pruning objective, the next thing to do is determine how much you need to remove. You should know that it is unhealthy to trim more than one-fourth of the entire young plant. For middle-aged and older trees, never prune more than ten percent of its foliage. Mature ones are more vulnerable to health issues because they have less energy to recuperate from the cut if the tree possesses many dead or broken limbs and twigs that need to be trimmed, spread the trimming process throughout several years.

Start the trimming process by removing suckers found at the trunk base, followed by eliminating dead and dying branches. Then, cut away the weak ones that could be a potential threat to your safety. You can also use this time to work on its shape, mainly if you aim to reduce the crown. Finally, look for branches that are in contact with another one and remove the smaller one.

Please do not touch any limb that grows at a 30-degree angle from the trunk because it helps build a sturdy canopy. If inevitable, make sure to keep twigs evenly spaced.

If your goal is to thin a tree, it is vital to note the branch’s size to determine whether it needs to go or stay. As much as possible, only trim small divisions. It is okay to remove any branch less than two inches. Unless a healthy twig with a diameter of 2-4 inches is posing a threat, you should leave it untouched.

If you are skeptical of whether a branch is worthy of being kept or needs to be removed, consult a certified arborist. An arborist can tell you the safest way to remove a limb, especially larger ones. For tree species such as maple and birch, keep the cut not more than 2 inches because they don’t recover as fast as other types. On the other hand, oak and linden can endure a 4-inch cut.

Use the Right Technique


Always use clean and sharp tools when trimming plants. It will help the tree recover quickly. It is essential to disinfect your cutting tools with isopropyl alcohol when dealing with a diseased and pest-infested kind.

Do not trim branches that grow upward. Stick with trimming branches growing horizontally or at a downward angle. If you cut a twig growing upward, it can result in scarring detrimental to it. Leave branches attached at U-shaped angles and remove those attached at V-shaped angles.

After determining the branch that you will cut, identify its collar. The division collar is a visible roughened bark found at the base of it. You can notice it quickly because it is typically thicker than the rest of the branch. To start trimming, cut just outside the collar. Keep the cut at a downward angle to form a callus that will keep it from rotting.

Use the three-cut technique for thicker twigs. Start by cutting a notch underneath it. Ideally, the distance should be 2 to 5 inches from the trunk. Make another notch on the top side of the branch at least 2 inches from the first cut. In theory, it should fall after the second cut. The fall should not cause injury to the collar or trunk. You can eliminate the stubby, making a final cut just outside the branch collar.

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