What are your objectives for trimming a tree?
Good tree pruning starts with an objective of what needs to be attained by it. A few common examples are:
- Limb is likely to break because of its weight and length, or because of storm damage
- Tree has defects down low, for example, it may have a double trunk and could use a crown reduction to lighten the load on them
- Limbs are rubbing on the house
- Tree is blocking my view
- Tree limbs are increasingly interfering with safety of vehicular or pedestrian traffic
- Tree is shading an area that needs more sun
Proper tree pruning is always done with a clear, attainable objective. Sometimes we hear clients tell us something that will actually cause them more problems because they don’t think of a truly tree-related problem to correct. It simply isn’t a clear objective.
Go for a solution that fits the way trees benefit us
So what does a vague objective sound like? One common request that a client will make that is actually self-defeating sounds like: “I am tired of the leaves. Can you just whack the top off the tree so I won’t have to deal with it anymore?” That sounds pretty clear enough, except it isn’t really an objective that will benefit the client for long. One of two things will happen if we followed through on that directive and “top” the tree: the tree will sprout profusely, making more leaves than ever before and create an even bigger leaf mess, or it will decline, rot, and die. The beauty, value, and natural cooling of that tree will be lost completely. It is a poorly defined objective.
Photos help illustrate the proper tree trimming
Let’s show you how we solve tree problems by correct tree trimming.
In the first picture at the top of the page, you see an overgrown honey locust tree. It has several issues that we can set our objectives on correcting. It has heavy limbs rubbing on the roof where the honey locust overhangs the house, and, in the foreground, the honey locust is is blocking the sunlight from reaching the smaller tree seen, and will cause that tree to struggle for survival. On the left side of the locust, the limbs have been cut incorrectly making the tree unsightly and its overall weight off-balanced. Finally, this tree is thick with smaller limbs and branches that add to the load, not to mention there was a lot of dead wood in the canopy.
The second photo shows the tree after we worked on correcting its problems. We started over the house and pruned the limbs there so they won’t rub the house or break off and hit the house. In the foreground, we made reduction cuts to allow the sun to reach the smaller tree. On the left side we removed the unsightly stubs which took off a small amount of weight, too. We also cut out the dead limbs and performed reduction cuts on any branches that we felt were likely to break.
The third picture shows an example of a proper reduction cut. You will notice that the main part of the limb has been cut to a side branch. This retains natural uncut tips and promotes slower growth and stronger limbs. When these type of cuts are made correctly it shortens the limb or tree up making it thicker and stronger for its length. A proper reduction cut will be made to a side branch thick enough to keep the limb healthy. For example, it’s better to make a six inch cut to a branch that measured two inches in diameter than to a one inch branch. Also, we prefer to look at making a series of smaller cuts to the branches rather than a large cut. We know that the smaller the cut, the less harm is done to the tree.