Proper trimming has a lot of benefits for trees. Trees that are trimmed regularly experience greater exposure to sunlight. More wind flows through their branches, keeping them dry and free from disease. Trimming also helps maintain a desirable shape, allowing your trees to blend in seamlessly with your landscape.
However, these benefits only ring true when trees are trimmed properly. Improper trimming can cause more harm than good. What constitutes proper tree trimming? Here are five mantras to help you remember the secrets to a proper, healthy trim.
1. Let the Extra Branches Go When the Sap No Longer Flows
While you can remove the odd dead or damaged branch from a tree at any time without doing harm, heavier pruning can cause serious damage if performed during the wrong season. For most trees, late winter to early spring is the best time to prune since the tree is dormant at this point. During dormancy, the tree won't lose as much sap when its branches are cut.
Pruning during the fall is not safe for most trees. The trees ooze more sap at this time, and fungi are also active in the fall, which makes any open wounds prone to infection. Some trees, especially flowering ones, can be gently pruned in early summer after the flowers fade. However, this practice can slow tree growth, so avoid summer pruning if a tree has already been struggling to grow.
2. Don't Remove Too Much; New Growth Is Clutch
Your aim, when pruning a tree, should always be to remove as little as possible while still achieving your goal - whether it be to shape the tree, remove old growth, or improve airflow. Heavy pruning stresses the tree because the tree then has more wounds to heal. The tree is also left with fewer leaves to use for food production, and the remaining branches are more susceptible to wind damage because they're more exposed.
The idea that you should remove one-third of tree growth is a myth. One-third of the growth is the absolute most you should ever remove; most cases call for far less than this.
3. Save Flat-Top Haircuts for People, Not Trees
Topping is when the entire top portion of a tree is removed, leaving it flat across the top. Uninformed homeowners may top a tree because they have heard the practice increases light penetration into the branches, or the homeowner is trying to stimulate new growth.
However, this practice can be harmful to many mature trees. The branches that topping exposes may develop sun scald and fungal infections. Topped trees are sometimes left unable to make enough food for themselves, which leads to slow death. If you want to encourage better growth or light penetration, a balanced trimming performed by a tree care expert is a much healthier choice than topping.
4. Clean Your Shears Like a Surgeon Cleans a Scalpel
Trees are susceptible to a wide array of fungal and bacterial infections. Trees do not always show obvious symptoms. If you trim one tree that happens to be infected and then trim another tree without first disinfecting your shears, you may spread an infection to the second tree. Always sanitize your shears between trees, and make sure any tree care company you hire does the same.
5. Keep Your Tree's Collar On
In an effort to do a tidy job of pruning, many homeowners cut branches off flush with the trunk. In doing so, they cut through an important piece of tissue known as the branch collar. When you cut through the branch collar, the tree has a much harder time healing itself and thus becomes more susceptible to disease.
When trimming, always leave the end of the branch in place. With this branch collar intact, the tree can heal quickly.
Are you afraid that your trimming practices have been doing more harm than good? Leave tree trimming to the experts, so you can be assured that your trees are receiving the most benefit. Contact J&B Professional Tree Service, Inc., to schedule your appointment.