So you have some trees that need to be trimmed. Before you call a tree service company, find out if it’s a small enough job you can do yourself.
In most cases, the typical homeowner can take care of routine trimming, although there are cases where it’s best to leave the pruning up to a professional. In this article, you will learn how to tell when it’s okay to do the labor yourself or when it’s time to call in the big guns.
It can be tempting to try and cut a tree yourself, but you have to know your limits! Too often, homeowners try to save a buck by trying to do the job alone.
Tree work is tricky and can be dangerous. An inexperienced homeowner can easily damage their home, their tree, or even themselves. If you thought that hiring a pro was expensive, wait until you end up with a medical bill!
So what’s your first sign that you may be in over your head? If the tree in question is large enough to involve a ladder to get the job done, then it is safe to say you need to wash your hands of it and leave the tree up to the experts.
If not, keep reading to learn the Do’s and Don’ts of tree trimming and find out what other situations should just be left to the professionals.
The Big Tree Trimming Do’s
- 1Let’s first talk about attire. Do wear something protective. Even when it’s hot, you should always wear long sleeves and pants, preferably something durable, like jeans, and closed-toe shoes. You will also need to wear gloves and safety goggles at all times. This fantastic fashion statement will keep you protected from the tree itself and possibly from the ants and other insects that might be living in and on it.
- 2Now that you have your uniform on, check the tree’s foliage. Overgrown trees will be bushy, with branches growing too closely together. Many overgrown trees have vines or other plants growing up the trunk and in or around the branches. Please take note of any limbs tangled together, as this can cause damage in the future and stunt proper growth.
- 3Also, you need to determine how close to your home your branches are growing. Overhanging branches always pose a threat of falling onto your home, damaged either by disease, wind, or lighting. Best to prune back the branches when they are small before they begin to loom over your roof.
- 4It is generally safe to cut back a tree’s outer foliage without much worry if you don't trim too aggressively, but make sure to discuss the best trimming practices for the tree with an arborist. He can tell you how to correctly prune the type of tree you're working on so that you do not over-prune into the inner foliage. Improper trimming can cause permanent damage or even death to the tree, and deadwood is a significant magnet for termites and carpenter ants.
- 5Speaking of deadwood, make sure to always check for those dying branches. Trees can become infected with invasive fungus or bugs leaving a diseased or a dead limb.
- 6Even though a dead branch may seem strong enough to leave it be, it is still a hazard. Diseased and dead branches are at constant risk of falling on a person, on your house, on a car, onto the power line, or into your neighbor’s property. You are liable for your tree. If it, or any part of it, falls on anything other than your yard, it means an insurance claim for you and could even lead to a lawsuit. You are better off nipping it in the bud.
- 7An excellent way to catch dangerous limbs before they cause too much destruction is to check your trees after a strong storm. Even if there is no lightning, heavy winds can destroy even the healthiest of trees. Any damaged or split branches will need to be pruned back.
- 8Have a fruit tree? Proper pruning can lead to better flower or fruit production. A healthy tree will bring you superior apples for that apple pie for sure!Pruning is not just for our benefit, though. Often, pruning is necessary for the tree as well. The practice of safe and proper trimming will encourage better growth. To maintain a healthy tree, you need to be mindful of when you prune it.
- 9There are certain times during the year when it’s best to do your trimming. When you want to promote new growth in the spring, you can do an extensive pruning session in the winter, but you will need to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed. Pruning during the cold season can cause your new shoots to freeze in the morning frosts. Lighter pruning in the summer, however, will help slow down the growth of your plants. This is good practice for your trouble causing limbs or even if you don’t want that tree to grow any bigger. In the hot months, try to trim either early morning or later in the evening so that the summer sun does not scorch the fresh cuts.
The Big Trimming Don’ts
- 1First and foremost, never prune unless you have a good reason to do so.
- 2If your tree is within 10 feet of a powerline/transformer, it’s best to assume you are ill-equipped to tackle that pruning job. It’s way easier than you think to touch the wires, electrocuting yourself accidentally. There is also the possibility of knocking out the whole neighborhood’s power if a branch was to fall onto the lines. Even though it could make for a great block party story, it’s probably not worth the damage.
- 3Remember when trimming to make sure you can comfortably reach the branches you want to cut. Overreaching can cause you to trim the wrong limb or to injure yourself accidentally. This rule especially applies when you are using a chainsaw. If you need a ladder to reach, call a professional instead. Also, always wear the right shoes! Boots are best, but whatever is on your feet, stay on the ground. If you do not have proper climbing spikes and experience, DO NOT attempt to climb that tree. Firm footing is key to making sure you don’t slip and fall.
- 4With small younger trees, you need to know how old it is. Do not trim a tree if it is younger than a year old. Only cut it if necessary, like a broken or dead limb.
- 5Pruning in the fall is an absolute no go. During the fall, trees take longer to heal, and in the autumn fungi fill the air. Trees can be prone to disease, and this is the perfect time for your tree to get infected. The only exception to this is if you discover a dead or diseased branch. This should come off immediately regardless of the time of year.
- 6Even with your significant winter cuts, remember not to prune back any more than 25% of the tree or bushes foliage. Plants need to heal after any trim, and when cut back too much, it can cause severe damage that’s too hard for the plant to heal back correctly.
- 7Some people like to use some paint or sealant over cut branches, much like you would a band-aid over a scrape, but this can cause more harm than good! Though you want your tree to hold in moisture, sealing up the fresh cuts can cause the tree to hold in too much moisture causing moisture retention or even rot.
- 8But the most important Rule of them all when tree trimming is this:DO NOT put yourself or somebody else in danger to trim your tree! Always call a professional arborist for help if you’re not comfortable trimming your tree or can’t reach the branches that need to come off.
Trim a Tree Checklist
- Identify which limbs need to be removed.
- Be sure to wear proper clothes, gloves, boots, and safety goggles.
- Call a professional if your feet need to leave the ground to get to a limb.
- Make sure the tree is not within 10 feet of a powerline/transformer. If so, call a professional or electric company.
- Make sure no people are in the surrounding area and that the drop zone is clear.
- Prune your tree by cutting the limbs at a 45-degree angle.
Get Help From a Professional!!
Do you need a professional to help you trim your tree? Do you live in Chattanooga, TN?
We understand just how difficult and dangerous trimming a tree can be — and we’re here to help.
Don’t harm yourself, a loved one, or damage your property by trying to trim a troublesome tree all by yourself.
Get a quote now by giving us a call or shooting us a text at: (423) 933-6863.