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Pruning Practices That Harm Trees

There are many reasons you might want to prune your tree. Maybe some of the branches have storm damage or the tree has simply grown too tall. Or maybe you just want to trim it to be more aesthetically pleasing. These are all perfectly good reasons for pruning a tree, but before you do, be sure you’re doing it properly. You wouldn’t want to cause unnecessary stress for your tree or even worse, make it susceptible to disease and even death.


Two unadvisable pruning practices are tipping and topping. The method of tipping involves cutting lateral branches between nodes to reduce crown width while topping is the pruning of large upright branches between nodes—a method often used to reduce the height of a tree. Improper pruning leads to bark damage and unnecessary injury to your tree, and has been known to foster the growth of fatal fungi and other unwanted defects.


When done correctly, pruning controls the appearance, shape and growth patterns of the tree and keeps branches from harming structures or people. The best time to prune trees is in the late winter through early spring before leaves emerge. You should remove dead, diseased, dying, broken and crossing branches as soon as you notice them. If branches have broken, stubs remaining on the tree should be pruned back to the next largest branch.


Pruning mature trees may require special equipment, training and experience.  If the pruning work requires climbing, the use of a chain or hand saws or the removal of large limbs, personal safety equipment, such as protective eye wear and hearing protection, is a must. Certified Arborists can provide a variety of services to assist in performing the job safely and reduce risk of personal injury and damage to your property. Trained crews will have all of the required safety equipment and liability insurance and can also determine what type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance and safety of your tree.


Avoid using the services of a company that advertises tree topping or uses tree climbing spikes when pruning. Climbing in this way can damage the trees, and as a result, should be limited only to trees that are being removed.


Visit the websites below for more information on how to properly (or improperly) prune a tree.


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