Caring for Your Trees
Caring for Your Trees<< Back
The dormant months of winter can be a perfect time to gaze upon the trees in your backyard and determine where best to trim and prune. Deciduous trees have shed their leaves and even evergreens have thinned their canopy as the natural cycle prepares them for the return of spring. Pruning branches in limbs in trees has a threefold purpose in affecting how the trees look, how they perform, and how safe they are for years of continued growth. Read on below for a few suggestions in how to care for trees in your yard and community spaces.
Looks, Performance, Safety
When thinking about how (and why) to prune your trees, the cause for action usually begins with one of these three reasons. As it turns out, a tree’s looks, performance, and safety considerations are all interrelated, and each characteristic informs the other when it comes to proper pruning and maintenance. For example, a healthy tree is kept free of dead or dying branches not only for its appearance but also to avoid “widow-maker” limbs that may become dangerous to friends & family members. While larger trees may require a certified arborist, much of the trimming and pruning work on small and medium sized trees can be done with simple tools and regular maintenance habits.
The Home Depot offers a list of tips to get you started on trimming your trees:
- Protect the leader. The main trunk, especially with young trees, should be helped against potential (but poorly positioned) competitors. Remove crooked, defective or lopsided limbs attempting the climb.
- If branches touch, rub or cross one another, choose one (or more) and prune it.
- Maintain a crisp trunk line by trimming lower limbs.
- Trim side shoots that pop up on the base of the tree with pruning shears or knife, scissors, or other clean-cutting tool.
- Lightly prune upper limbs to enhance the natural shape. (Hire a certified arborist if the job is too big.)
- Do not “top” or drastically cut back trunks
- Take care when using a chainsaw or other mechanized cutting tool, especially with kickbacks or when mounting ladders or climbing limbs.
- Continually prune and remove branches that are dead, diseased or damaged.
- Watch for large overhanging limbs near your house or other structures, and plan ahead to avoid future problems.
- Avoid cutting too close to the trunk when pruning. Look for the natural “collar” that appears near the trunk or at branch forks. Trim near this bulge but not directly against the trunk.
- Split trunks: with juvenile trees, you still have time to clear the way for a single trunk. Letting both grow weakens the overall strength of the tree, and may lead to problems down the road. Make a decision for which to keep and carefully trim the other trunk.
- Take safety precautions and wear protective while pruning to avoid being struck by falling limbs or incurring other potential injuries. Ask for help when needed.
For more information or to continue research before starting your own tree trimming tasks, check out this Complete Guide to Pruning and Trimming Trees. The Fiskars extendable pole-saw and tree pruner is also a great tool to tackle most of your backyard trimming needs.
Pro Tip: Lubricate the sliding extendable poles of your tree trimmer as well as the pruner shears, lever arm, and blade with WD-40® Specialist® Dry Lube. The long-lasting corrosion protection does not attract dirt or debris and the formula provides superior lubrication with no oily residue.