Trimming back your trees keeps them healthy, attractive, and safe. Unfortunately, there are some common amateur trimming mistakes that will lead to long-term tree damage. Knowing what these mistakes are can help you avoid them if you trim your own trees, or at least spot them so you know when to call in a professional to fix the issue.
1. Branch Stubs
Ideally, all pruning cuts should be made directly in front of a leaf bud or node, which will prevent unsightly bare branch stubs from poking out of the crown. These stubs can also be a weak point for the tree, as the cut end tends to heal more slowly if it isn't near a bud. This leaves the interior wood open to pest and disease infestation. Branch stubs are more problematic on larger limbs, but your trimming service will likely recommend cutting back all stubs to a bud in order to prevent issues.
2. Flush Cuts
A common rookie mistake is to cut a branch flush to the trunk of the tree. This involves cutting through the branch collar, which is a raised ring of wood at the base of the branch. Without the collar, the wound from the cut will seal up slowly, which makes rot or pest infestation more likely. Repair of flush cuts is difficult, so your tree service will focus more on keeping the wound clean and monitoring it for disease or pest problems that may require treatment.
3. Hygiene Issues
The tools used to prune a tree can be a vector for spreading diseases or pests to neighboring trees. Proper sanitation of tools is all too often overlooked when a homeowner prunes their own trees, and the results can be devastating if a major disease or pest is spread around the yard. Professionals sanitize tools after every cut through any diseased or infested wood, as well as when moving on to a new tree so that hygiene won't be an issue.
4. Tree Topping
Topping ranks high as major damage that can kill a tree, but it can be repaired sometimes. Topping is when the top of the tree is cut flat, usually in an attempt to lower the height of the crown. The result is a weak form and loss of foliage that will make the tree more prone to disease, damage, and decline. It will take careful trimming over several years to re-train the tree to good form, but often a tree service can help a topped tree recover if the damage isn't too severe.
Contact a tree trimming service in your area for professional pruning.