Like many new homeowners across the nation, you may already be daydreaming about how you will transform your new home's outdoor areas once the closing is over and the keys are in your hand. If the property has been well maintained, you may only be planning to do some minor landscaping, but if the trees have been neglected or damaged by weather or insects, you may be planning to do more, such as extensively pruning or trimming the trees. If this is the case, be aware that trimming trees incorrectly can cause further damage to both their health and appearance. If done too severely, it can kill even large, otherwise healthy specimens. To avoid making tree-trimming mistakes you might regret later, take time to read the following information before you begin.
Timing the Trimming
A common mistake made by new homeowners is pruning and trimming trees during seasons or weather conditions that can negatively affect their growth and future health. Although there can be many specific factors that must be considered before trimming each tree, homeowners should consider the following before proceeding:
- is the tree's sap rising or falling?
- is the tree fruiting or experiencing a period of heavy growth?
- are there any severe climate concerns that need to be considered in order to choose the right time for trimming and pruning, including periods of drought, excessive rainfall or severe cold or heat?
- is the tree currently stressed, ill or recovering from some sort of problem that could negatively affect its health if trimmed or pruned?
In most cases, healthy trees should be trimmed or pruned in the fall or early spring, when sap levels are low and the leaves have fallen, leaving the tree's structure visible and easier to trim and shape correctly.
Cutting Too Much
If the new homeowner finds that their new home's trees and bushes have been neglected for long periods of time or allowed to overgrow their space, it can be easy to get carried away and trim or prune them too aggressively. Doing so can create long-term cosmetic and health issues for the tree or bush or even cause them to die.
In most instances, tree trimming and pruning should not remove more than 25% of the tree's crown. Examples of too much cutting include:
- removing too many of the upper limbs, or topping the tree, which can create nutritional and cosmetic issues or permanent damage
- removing too many of the lower branches which drastically reduces foliage, also creating nutritional issues for the tree ( the result of this tree-trimming mistake is sometimes referred to as a broccoli tree)
When a new homeowner purchases a home with large trees, it is often necessary to remove some of the limbs, branches and shoots to keep them from rubbing against the roof or exterior walls of the home and other structures. Unfortunately, in an effort to remove this excessive growth, homeowners often cut the limbs off flush with the trunk of the tree. Cutting in this manner removes the branch collar, which is a callous that forms where the limbs join the tree's trunk. When left in place, this collar helps trees heal from cuts by creating branch collar cells that protect the cut area from insect damage, which could weaken the main trunk and result in death to the tree.
Before trimming, pruning or making any extensive cuts to the trees in the yard of your new home, consider asking a reputable tree trimming professional from a company like Schulhoff Tree & Lawn Care, Inc. to look at each tree with you. They will be able to help you choose the right time and method for completing any tree trimming or pruning that is needed, so that your property's appearance is restored and your trees remain healthy and vigorous.