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Tree Maintenance, Tree Trimming February 22, 2013

How to Trim a Tree – A Beginner’s Guide

Trees can add beauty and shade to your yard, but they can also become misshapen eyesores with tangled branches that won’t grow leaves or flowers.
If you want the trees in your yard to look their fullest and best, you’ll have to give them a little help by trimming and shaping them. Tree cutting can be intimidating for some homeowners, but once you know how to trim a tree, you’ll be promoting your tree’s health and adding visual appeal to your landscaping.

Before you get started with your tree cutting, you should read some tips on how to trim a tree so you’ll be keeping yourself safe and getting the results you desire.

Safety First

When considering do-it-yourself tree cutting, your safety should always be your first priority. Before you pull out the saws and hand pruners, make sure this is a project you can handle on your own. If you have a small, ornamental tree (12 to 25 feet tall) the project should be manageable, but trees taller than that will likely require ladders and chainsaws–which can create a dangerous situation for homeowners. If it’s a big job, save yourself the trip to the hospital and hire a tree cutting professional.

Plan Your Cuts

Before considering how to trim a tree, you should know the ideal time to do it and what tools you’ll need for the job. The best time to prune your tree is during the winter or early spring, when you’re able to see the branches easily without leaves blocking your view. You should also get a hold of a pruning saw and some hand pruners if you don’t already own them.

Now that you have your tools, you should identify any problem branches. You’ll want to trim branches that seem to veer off in strange directions, altering the tree’s natural shape, along with any branches that cross over each other and result in crowding.

Work from Big to Small

You should plan to trim branches according to size, starting with the largest branches first. For branches larger than 3 inches in thickness, you’ll want to make more than one cut to get the branch off. If you try to cut off such a large-diameter limb in one go, you risk it tearing off under it’s own weight and harming healthy bark on your tree. Instead, use a pruning saw to cut heavy branches off in three sections. Once your big branches are down, you’ll want to cut the stubs close to where the tree and the branch originally met. Make sure to do this at an angle so that the tree will be able to repair itself properly.

Now with your big branches out of the way, you may also have some branches that grow inward toward the tree or cross over other branches. These crowding branches can rub together and can cause injury to healthy, properly growing branches. You should trim branches like these off because they aren’t in a good position to receive sunlight and often won’t grow leaves or flowers. A pair of hand pruners should be strong enough to trim branches that are on the smaller side.

Tree cutting can be intimidating, especially for beginners. But small jobs are often more doable than you think. If you are still unsure of how to trim a tree or feel like the task at hand is just too large, don’t put your tree or your safety in jeopardy. When in doubt, always contact a professional. By using these tree cutting tips, you’ll able to trim branches easily and create a tree you’ll be proud to have in your yard.

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