If you want to keep your trees looking neat and tidy, giving them a good trim each spring is a smart move. However, trimming trees is not as straightforward as it may seem, and it's easy to make mistakes along the way that result in more harm than good. This spring, keep these five tips in mind as you go about your annual tree trimming.
1. The Earlier, the Better
Ideally, you would trim all of your trees before bud break — the stage at which buds appear on the tree. Trimming the tree at this stage, during which it is still dormant, minimizes sap loss. It also keeps the tree from having put lots of energy into budding, only for you to then trim those buds away.
2. Cut the Whole Branch
A lot of homeowners trim the ends off of various branches in an effort to shape the tree. But this approach is actually not healthy for the tree since it removes the most vibrant, leaf-producing ends of branches. Instead of cutting the ends off of branches, remove whole branches — the longest and most unruly ones — by cutting them close to the trunk.
3. Sanitize Your Shears
It does not matter that the trees are dormant and that all are on your own property. You still need to sanitize your trimming shears with alcohol between trees. There are so many different tree diseases, from anthracnose to ash yellows, that can be spread via dirty pruning shears. It's just not worth the risk.
4. Use Sharp Shears
Trying to saw through a tree branch with dull blades is not good for the tree. You'll fray the wood and make the wound a lot harder for the tree to heal. Have your shears sharpened before you begin trimming the trees. Many hardware stores offer this service. If your blades are rusted, you may wish to invest in a new pair of shears.
5. Don't Take Too Much
If a tree needs extensive re-shaping, make sure you do so slowly over a period of several years. Don't just cut away all of the excess at once. A good guideline is to never remove more than 1/3 of the tree's growth in one session. If you can get by with less than this, that's even better. The tree needs enough leaves to continue making food for itself, so, if you remove too many branches, it may suffer.
To learn more about the best ways to care for your trees, contact a company that offers tree trimming services near you.