Done the right way, trimming your tree can enhance its growth, maintain its shape, and even help prevent disease. The problem is, a lot of homeowners make mistakes when trimming their tree that ends up doing more harm than good in the long term. If you're planning to trim your trees this year, be sure to follow these tips so you don't accidentally damage the tree:
Trim the tree in late fall or early winter.
Timing is essential when you're trimming a tree. You want to trim while the tree is dormant, which is after all the leaves have fallen, but before any buds appear in the early spring. The best time to prune is thus late fall or early winter, though you can prune in the dead of winter or early spring if needed.
Trimming while the tree is dormant keeps it from losing too much sap. Excess sap loss can weaken the tree, and insects are also attracted to the oozing sap if you trim too late in the year.
Leave a nub.
You might think you should cut the branch flush with the trunk of the tree since this looks the neatest. However, this is actually not a healthy choice for the tree. There is a thick band of vascular tissue right where each branch meets the trunk, and if you cut straight through this tissue, it will take longer for the tree to heal after being trimmed. This could lead to an increased risk of infection. So, leave about a 1-inch numb behind when you trim each branch off.
Use clean trimmers.
Always sanitize your trimmers with rubbing alcohol before using them. In fact, you should really sanitize them after each tree if you are trimming more than one tree. This prevents you from spreading diseases from tree to tree. Even if a tree does not show any signs of disease yet, it could be in the early stages of an infection, so you really can't be too careful.
Don't cut off too much.
You should never remove more than 1/3 of the tree's branches in a single year, as this can greatly weaken the tree, leaving it too few branches and leaves to harness the sun properly. If possible, try to remove even fewer branches than this. Cut away any dead or decaying branches first, and then focus on removing any that overlap other branches, stick out too far, or alter the tree's shape in an unwanted way. There's no need to remove healthy, well-placed branches.
Contact a company like T's Trees for more information and assistance.