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6 Terrible Tree Trimming Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Almost everybody knows that tree pruning or trimming is essential in having strong, healthy and beautiful trees. What most people don’t know, however, is that there is a right and a wrong way to trim a tree and doing it wrongly can kill your tree permanently. Hiring the idle neighbor who cuts your fence to prune your trees or doing it yourself may be the cheaper choice, but it’s not necessarily the best choice. Here are six terrible tree trimming mistakes people make and how to avoid them:

1. Topping

So you have this tree that is growing too tall, too fast and you decide to chop off the top to maintain a specific height and stop the growth. What you don’t know is, when you cut a branch, you encourage three others to sprout and replace the one you have cut. All those new leaders will be fighting for space and strength up there eventually messing with the structure of the tree. What you will end up with is an ugly tree that cannot withstand a storm because it’s weak. Fighting tree growth is a never-ending battle, and if you continue to do it, the tree will eventually start dying from within. If you want to control the growth of a tree, it’s better to prune larger branches on the sides into smaller branches and leave the top alone.

2. Excessive Trimming

Like everything else in life, less is always more. Though trimming and pruning seem to make a tree better, overdoing it will take away the tree’s source of nutrients, support, and shade. Ideally you should keep the pruning between 5 and 10 % if you want the tree to be healthy. Some people over trim their trees when they want the plants or grass below it to grow properly, but the best solution is to remove the entire tree instead or plant that stuff elsewhere.

3. Bad Timing

Believe it or not, there is a wrong time to prune your trees so you can’t just do it whenever you want. The worst time to trim a tree is when it’s weak and stressed due to a disease or too much sun. It’s also not a good idea to trim a tree during summer because you will take away its shade. The hot sun can cause scald and wounds to the bark of a tree and severely damage it. Have a tree expert inspect your trees before trimming and tell you if they are healthy enough and always do your trimming when it’s a bit cold.

4. Removing the Collar

A branch collar is that area where the branch joins the trunk. The collar has specialized cells that enhance healing when the branch has been cut, and it forms a bump or a swelling that prevents diseases from entering the trunk. However, if the branch is cut too close to the trunk, you will also cut the collar thus exposing the tree to diseases that can kill the tree. To avoid this, always cut the branch a few feet from the trunk and make two initial pruning cuts to reduce the weight of the branch so it won’t rip the bark when falling.

5. Using Dirty Shears or Chain Saw

Even though the shears or the blades may look clean, they probably hold an army of bacteria and diseases from other trees. If you don’t clean the shears before trimming your trees, you will transfer those diseases and bacteria to them which will lead to their death. To avoid this, always clean your chainsaw and shears with a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol before starting the job.

6. Pruning Conifers

Conifers can get out of control during summer and start climbing up the house and your yard. The logical thing to do is to cut those ends that are shamelessly inviting themselves into your house. Unfortunately, new growth happens at the end of the branches so when you cut those ends, you stop the growth and kill that branch. If you must remove overgrowing conifers that are a nuisance, look for branches that can be trimmed from the trunk instead of pruning the ends.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can trim trees, and you are better off leaving your trees to professionals. Besides harming your trees, there is also a grave possibility for injury or death if a branch fell on you or someone else.

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