Should You Trim or Prune Your Tree?
- How to Prune a Tree | This Old House
An arborist's rules on how to shape up a small ornamental tree to make it more attractive and healthy
When and Why
Winter is half over now. Have you looked at your trees? The best time to prune or trim them is while the sap is still in the roots – a period of time perhaps best known for when the tree is dormant. A dormant Maple tree for example, will have lost its leaves. A Maple won't get new leaves until the sap rises up through the roots to encourage new growth as early as mid-March.
Let me ask you again, have you looked at your trees? Trees that are growing near power lines, sidewalks, road signs, bus stops or other important man-made structures should receive tree trimming and pruning depending on their size, type of tree, and desired outcome. The need to clear power lines or street signs may require a lower branch or two to be pruned. Maintaining an evergreen hedge in a certain shape may require trimming.
Orchard farmers understand pruning in reference to preparing their fruit trees for the coming growing season.
Trim Versus Prune
Tree Trimming and pruning as you might have estimated from the above paragraph, are two different terms with slightly different meanings or purposes. They both do the same job of removing dangerous or unwanted foliage from a tree, but their reasons for doing so mark their different usages.
Orchard farmers understand pruning in reference to preparing their fruit trees for the coming growing season. Landscaping companies understand pruning in reference to dangerous or infected branches, and the need to remove those from the tree before it creates a hazard for people or structures nearby.
Landscape companies, professional gardeners and grounds keepers understand trimming to be the step taken to keep shrubbery looking as it should for the pleasing aesthetic to the visitor's eye. Topiaries for example, undergo regular trimming to maintain their unique and eye-catching shapes. Grounds keepers can often be seen trimming hedges, shrubs and larger trees throughout the growing season as new growth threatens the desired aesthetic.
Hiring Out the Job
Not everyone can afford a landscaping company, gardener or grounds keeper to maintain the trees on their property. Some will go down to the local hardware store and buy the necessary equipment, but others will hire out the service to a company specializing in these services.
Such a company will ensure that:
- you as the owner of one or more trees, understand what needs to be done and why,
- the risks involved of doing or not doing it at the time of year requested, and
- ensure that the pruning or trimming is done in a safe manner that doesn't harm the tree.
Just be sure that the company you hire out knows what they are doing. Since this article was first written, the area where this author lives has seen "chop jobs" so bad that tree owners feared their trees would die. Get references, visit results done for others, and then hire out.
Now is the time to inspect your trees and ensure they are ready for Spring.
If you aren't sure how to inspect your tree(s) for health, safety, aesthetic, or other reasons, pick up the phone and call a reputable tree-trimming company. Their representative will assist you by arranging for a visit to your property. Don't wait for the city crews to warn you or wait till neighbors are reporting your trees. Be a good neighbour! Get your trees inspected now and arrange for a professional to come on site.
Do you trim or prune your own tree(s)? Or do you hire out?
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© 2016 Marilynn Dawson