How to Properly Trim a Tree
Part of keeping a well-maintained yard is trimming your trees periodically. Of course, you could hire someone to handle this task for you, but once you know what you are doing, it generally isn’t that difficult to do yourself. With the proper tools and a bit of effort, you can keep your trees looking great over the years, without spending the money on having to have a professional do it. While there are more specific pruning tips for various types of trees, the following guidelines will apply to a wide range of species that will help your trees look at their tip-top best all year long.
Trim Your Trees in Winter
If you have deciduous trees, it is usually best to wait until after their leaves have dropped in the fall. Once the branches are bare, you’ll be better able to see the branch structure so you know which ones you’ll need to cut. Although evergreen trees don’t drop their leaves in the fall, it is still a good idea to trim them in winter. Not only will this help you keep all of your trees on the same pruning schedule, but it also makes the process easier on the trees.
During the winter, many trees go into a dormant state, somewhat like hibernation, to protect themselves in cold weather. This is the best time to trim a tree, as it will be less traumatizing for the tree. Then, in spring, the tree will be able to put all its energy into creating new growth, rather than maintaining unnecessary branches and repairing damaged areas.
Take Your Time
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when trimming their own trees is not having a plan before they get started. If you just start hacking away or try to complete it in a rush, you could end up with a tree that is lopsided and uneven, making it more difficult for the tree to flourish again the following year or later in the future.
Before you start cutting, take the time to thoroughly inspect the tree. Follow the largest branches from the base to see where they end up. Once you have a solid understanding of the tree’s structure, you’ll be ready to start planning where you will cut back.
In many cases, it is beneficial to start from the bottom and work your way up. This way, you’ll be able to clear more room under the tree for you to work. It will also be easier to see what is going on in the higher branches once you reach them. With more space at the bottom of the tree, you’ll have an easier time getting your ladder set up as well.
As you trim, try to keep some variety in the directions in which branches will continue to grow. If they are all pointing in the same direction, the tree may begin to look sparse on the opposite side. Keep branches pointing in a variety of directions to maintain fullness.
Protect Your House
As your tree continues to grow, you may find that some branches are making their way close to your house. Be sure to trim back any branches that are threatening to touch the house. Take into account how the tree will move in the wind as well to ensure branches won’t sway and damage your home.
Keeping the branches away from your house can also help to prevent the roots from damaging your plumbing or foundation. For many tree types, the root structure reaches out as far as the branches do, so trimming back branches near your house can help to keep the roots away as well.
Do More than You Think You Need To
When a tree doesn’t have any leaves, it can be challenging to determine what its size will be once the leaves grow back. As you trim, cut off more branches than you think you need to. Yes, the tree will look sparse through the winter, but it will grow back even fuller in the spring, and the branches that remain will be stronger and healthier.
Don’t Neglect the Rest of Your Yard
In addition to caring for your trees, it is also important to maintain your other plants throughout the year, including your lawn. This is especially important because healthy soil and sod make for healthier plants and trees to flourish in your lawn. For all your sod needs in South and Central Florida, you can count on Duda Sod. We carry a diverse range of sod variations that thrive in our local climate.