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Should You Trim Or Remove a Tree?

When deciding whether or not to trim a tree, there are many things to consider. In general, pruning can help maintain tree health by directing growth and removing dead or unhealthy branches. But it can also be used to shape a tree, reduce clutter, encourage flowering and fruit production, and even to increase light in the garden.

While it is possible to prune a healthy tree at any time of year, the best times are in the winter or fall, which will promote rapid healing of the open cut wounds. It’s also best to avoid pruning in the spring, as this can stimulate new growth and increase the likelihood of disease and pest infestations.

Begin by examining the overall condition of the tree trim or remove a tree, including the number of dead branches and limbs that are broken or hanging low. You may be able to save some of these branches by simply removing the dead ones, but any that are weak or damaged should be cut off immediately, as they can fall during a storm and cause damage or injury.

Next, take a walk around the tree and look for limbs that are blocking or obstructing buildings, walkways or other trees. Branches that hang too low can become tangled or entangled in other branches, or block sunlight from the garden below. If a branch is obstructing an electrical box or threatening to damage the house, it should be trimmed immediately.

Lastly, check for branches that are crossing over each other or touching each other and then rubbing together. Over time, this can cause serious damage to the tree and create a safety hazard. In most cases, overlapping branches can be trimmed out by making an ‘undercut’ first. This involves sawing upwards from the underside of the branch and cutting about 1/4th through it. Then, you can saw downwards from the top of the branch, which should be about 6-12 inches above the undercut. This will allow the branch to fall cleanly to the ground without breaking or splintering.

It’s important not to remove more than about a quarter of the living branch mass in any one season, as this can shock the tree and lead to its death. In addition, it’s usually best to make the final cut almost flush with what is called the stem collar, a small lip of bark that each branch protrudes from. This will help ensure that the callus formed around the wound is as strong as possible, and will also keep out unwanted insects and fungi. If you are unsure about how to proceed with a particular tree, or think that it might be too much of a risk to prune yourself, contact a professional arborist to assess the situation.

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