Trimming branches are hugely beneficial as it can extend the life expectancy of the tree, promote new growth, and enhance the overall look of the tree. The strategy in removing branches should be based on aesthetics, safety, or getting rid of those that are dead and damaged. Trimming requires a few necessities, before beginning. These include a pruning saw, chainsaw, and a spotter. Using these tools will make the project go more smoothly.

When removing a tree branch, using a ladder has a tendency to cause injuries. Instead, the tree should be tied in two places using professional-grade equipment. Eye protection should be worn, and ear plugs are also a wise decision. Heavy trimming or removal work should be done by professional, but smaller branches can be removed by following a few easy steps:

1. Choose the right type of saw. Experience level and the type of tree may go into this decision-making process. Chainsaws are often the fastest way to go, but they are dangerous and may be inappropriate for use by an inexperienced trimmer. The safest way to do the job is by using a pruning saw with a telescoping handle.

2. Target branches that will be removed. The trimmer should keep in mind what they want to accomplish by removing the branches.

3. Make an undercut one-third of the way up through the bottom of the branch, approximately a foot or two away from the trunk, and no deeper than ¼ the diameter of the branch. This cut allows the bark to separate, and it will also prevent splitting or peeling of the branch from the trunk.

4. Make a second cut all the way through the branch from the top, about three inches out on the branch.

5. Allow the branch to fall, and it should move away without tearing the bark of the branch into the trunk. The trimmer should be prepared to move away from the branch as it falls, but the first cut should prevent it from swinging while it falls.

6. Remove the stub by making a third cut as close to the trunk of the three as possible and allowing the last piece of the branch to fall to the ground.

When trimming trees, the time of the year should also be considered, as some trees react differently to being pruned during different seasons. Maple trees will drip or “bleed” from the cuts if they are trimmed at certain times of the year, specifically right before or after winter. This bleeding is a cosmetic issue and does not hurt the tree. In order to prevent bleeding, the tree should be pruned in the middle of winter, late spring, or summer.

Other trees also have specific times that they should not be trimmed. Dogwoods should not be trimmed in April in May, as pruning during this time makes them more susceptible to the dogwood borer. The insect bores into the trunk and damages the vascular system of the tree. Oaks should only be trimmed from November to March. During the other moths, there is a higher prevalence of Oak Wilt disease that can affect those trees.

Another aspect to consider when pruning trees is to trim them in the right place. If too much stub is left when removing a branch, an entry point is created for destructive insects and pathogens that cause diseases in trees. The collar of the tree, which is the swollen area at the base of branches, should also not be removed. Pruning cuts should be made just beyond the collar without leaving a stub, but the swollen area should still remain intact.


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