WHEN TO TRIM A
How and when to
trim your trees
When is the
right time to trim your trees?
There's an old saying about
"It's OK to trim anytime the saw is sharp"
When it comes to taking out dead or
broken branches that saying may be true, however, when it comes to flowering
"Timing is everything"
this dogwood in late summer or fall would
have removed most of these spring blossoms!
Flowers formed on "old wood"
trees won't bloom if they are trimmed after flower buds are
"set." The safest rule of thumb is to only trim flowering trees during the
30-day period right after they bloom.
risk pruning off the flower show
you've waited an entire year to see!
Other kinds of "timing"
for tree trimming
There are other
trees that shouldn't be pruned certain times of the year, due to disease and
sp.) - It's generally
recommended that Oaks not be trimmed from April through October since this
will make them
more susceptible to Oak Wilt disease.
sp.) - Dogwoods trimmed
in April or May are more likely to attract the dogwood borer; an insect that bores into
the trunk and severely damages the vascular system.
(Acer sp.) - Maples are
known as "bleeders". This means they will drip from pruning wounds if they
are cut in seasons when the leaves are off, but they aren't fully dormant. Recent
university research has shown that "bleeding" doesn't really hurt the
tree. However, if you want to prune without bleeding, a Maple must be pruned when it
is fully dormant; Mid-Winter -or- Spring/Summer when it is fully leafed out.
VIDEO: Trimming a Japanese Maple
This sort of tree "topping" has many detrimental results.... permanent structural damage to the tree, profuse sprout production, and
possible tree death. Note the weak, fast growing, upright sprouts on the
Maple shown below that was 'topped' years earlier.
Place to trim trees
The biggest pruning mistake
we see are branches cut in the wrong place. Most amateurs tend to leave too much of
a "stub" when they remove a branch. The problem is, once this stub dies
off, it creates a perfect entry point for insects and disease pathogens.
regenerate tissue the same way human beings do. While our skin acts to replace
itself, trees grow new tissue around their wounds in a process known as
"compartmentalization". If a tree can compartmentalize an old pruning
wound, it has a much better chance of survival. Also, efforts should be made not to
create wounds on tree trunks with lawn mowers and other machinery. Destructive fungi
a natural defense system built into the swollen area known as the "collar" where
the branch meets the trunk. It is important to make a "flush cut" close to
the trunk, without removing the collar. The proper cut is made just beyond the
collar, not leaving a stub, but leaving the swollen area intact.
THIS IS THE CORRECT WAY... DON'T leave a stub, but
the 'collar' at the base of a branch, since a tree has natural defenses there. Always make 'clean cuts.'
The first step in removing a branch is getting the weight off:
Go out a
foot or two from the trunk and first make an undercut 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of
the branch. If you go too far, your saw will get pinched.
your second cut all the way through the branch from the top side of the branch, just an
inch or two outward from your first cut.
branch should then fall away without tearing bark back to the trunk. Maples always
want to tear.
Safety - Never
attempt tree work that should be done by a professional. Trees can wound or kill in
the blink of an eye!
or trim trees from a ladder. This is asking for trouble!
a tree at least two places:
1) With an approved safety line through a strong crotch higher up in the tree -and-
2) With the strap on your professional tree saddle
recommendations for properly "notching" a tree trunk when you are cutting down a
tree. Kickback will kill! A friend's father was killed when a locust tree
kicked back in his face. And he was an experienced woodsman.
approved course in chain saw practices and safety, and apply what you learn. Chain
saws cut like "a knife through butter" when they contact skin! Loggers
wear special pants lined with Kevlar and other materials to protect their legs from chain
hardhat and eye protection (also wear ear protection with chain saws). Consider
other safety equipment and advice as well.
Shearing the new growth
keeps the tree shapely and dense
Trimming makes a BIG difference
in the size of a tree years later!
Above: White Pines sheared every year
Below: White Pine without any trimming. White pines grow 3 feet per year!