Three DIY Pruning Mistakes To Avoid

Homeowners often make innocent mistakes when trying to prune their own trees. Unfortunately, these small mistakes can have big repercussions that affect the appearance and health of the tree.  

#1: Stubbing Out

Stubbing out refers to the process of cutting back the tips of multiple branches. On many trees, this type of pruning causes twiggy growth to form at the end of the branch, which then creates stubby branches with brush growth.

Instead of multiple small cuts, make a few well-placed larger cuts. It's usually better to full remove completely the few branches that have become overgrown or weak instead of stubbing the tips. If you already have a stubbed branch that you want to save, then wait until fall when all the brushy twigs have developed over a season. Remove all but the strongest and best-placed twigs. They will grow to replace the missing branch tip and solve the stubbed out branch issue.

#2: Topping

Topping can seem like a good idea. You have an entire tree that has grown taller than you desired, so you simply cut off the top to bring it back down to the size you want. Unfortunately, you end up with a flat-topped tree that is more prone to splitting because it no longer has a strong central leader.

Fortunately, most topped trees can be saved. Find the youngest, most flexible branch that is growing below the cut of central leader. Gently bend it upward and tie it into place with a plant tie. This branch will become your new vertical leader. In deciduous trees, you may need to cut off other leaders that try to grow vertically. Once the leader is trained, usually by the end of the season, you can remove the plant tie.

#3: Over-Shaping

Over-shaping is a common issue with evergreens. While it's not harmful to prune hedges and shrubs to specific shapes, trees should be allowed their natural form with only light pruning to maintain a general shape or remove damaged branches. The main issue with over-shaping is that it is easy to cut into the woody parts of the branch, which results in bald spots.

Evergreen branches tend to go woody along the lower part of their length. This means that this part of the branch no longer produces needles or leaves. If you trim back into the woody areas, you end up with bald areas. Unfortunately, there is no way to repair the branch once this happens -- your only choice is to remove it completely and hope the neighboring branches grow full enough to hide the bald area.

Avoid DIY pruning mistakes or fix those that have already occurred by calling in a professional tree trimming company to handle your pruning needs.

For more information, contact a company that provides tree trimming services.