DIY Tree Trimming Tips

In normal circumstances, it doesn’t take much to keep trees healthy and thriving: 

  • Adequate water
  • Nutrients, via soil and fertilizer, whenever necessary 
  • Mulching occasionally 
  • Pruning, every few years when your trees are young, then annually as they mature 

The first three of these are fairly easy to achieve. Mother Nature herself takes care of most of what trees need. 

When tree canopies become too thick, the tree will begin to suffer. You won’t see as many beautiful blooms, or it won’t produce as much fruit as it has in years past. 

To remedy this, prune your trees regularly. It may seem like an intimidating task, but given the right preparation, you can do your own tree trimming. 

Tree Trimming Tips for Homeowners

If you feel more comfortable calling a professional tree trimming service in Clearwater right off the bat, that’s absolutely fine! They’ll do a great job and (hopefully) become partners in your tree care journey. 

But if you decide to give it a try yourself, here are a few helpful tips: 

Clean and sharpen your pruning tools. 

Cleaning your tools before use will reduce the chance of transferring diseases. Keeping them sharp makes the job a lot less frustrating, and it’s much better for the tree to leave behind clean cuts rather than jagged edges.  

Learn the parts of the tree.

This includes branch collars and branch bark ridges. These parts are important to know because they affect where you will make your cuts. Once you can confidently identify these things on the trees you want to trim, follow these basic guidelines: 

  • Leave limbs that form 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock upward angles. This is the optimal angle for healthy branches.
  • Cut limbs just past the branch collar (moving away from the trunk). If you make your cut in the right place, you won’t damage the branch collar, but you won’t leave a limb stub, either. 

Identify branches and smaller limbs that will need to be removed

Branches that need to be removed include hanging branches, crossing branches, water sprouts, and broken limbs. These types of branches affect the appearance of the tree, and they drain valuable nutrients from good branches. 

Spend time studying the tree before you start cutting. 

Don’t remove more than 25% of the tree’s canopy. 

This cardinal rule of tree trimming will prevent your tree from going into shock. 

Taking off more than this could result in trauma to the tree, meaning it will be yet another year before you can expect to see blooms or fruit. In worst case scenarios, taking too many limbs can kill the tree.

Always trim small limbs and new growth around the base of the tree trunk.  

Sometimes called “suckers,” these small upshots will drain a tree’s resources faster than anything else. Some can be snapped off even with the trunk, but others will need to be pruned off cleanly with shears. 

In some cases, you may be able to the remove the sapling, pot it in rich dirt, and nurture it until you can transplant it back into the ground somewhere else. 

Don’t trim too often. 

Mature trees will only need to be trimmed once every 3-5 years. Younger trees may need more frequent pruning. Experts recommend every 2-3 years. This doesn’t include yearly maintenance, such as removing a dead or broken limb.  

However, there are exceptions. An evergreen may never need to be trimmed since it doesn’t produce fruit or blooms, while fruit trees may need annual trimming to maximize production. 

Research the type of trees you have, taking their age into account, to determine the frequency of pruning that is necessary as trimming too often is a common DIY tree care mistake

Don’t hesitate to call a professional tree service 

It’s a lot of information to take in, and no one will blame you if it’s something you just don’t want to deal with. But one thing is for certain. The healthiest, most productive trees need periodic care, including trimming. 

There are many benefits of tree trimming, especially when it’s done by a trained professional: 

  • Promote healthy growth and keep an eye out for diseases. It’s easy to spot the first signs of disease when you’re up close to the tree pruning, so you can treat them early and have a better chance of saving your tree. 
  • Protect structures around the trees. Damaged branches – along with branches that are just very heavy – are a danger to anything beneath them. High winds and storms can break large branches and cause them to fall on roofs, landscaping and vehicles. 
  • Maximize blooms or fruits. The key to a more productive tree isn’t necessarily more branches. The quality of the branches that remain is just as important as how many potentially fruitful branches exist. When you prune effectively, you’ll also get larger, healthier fruits or blooms. 

The advantages of hiring a professional are plentiful. The argument that some DIY enthusiasts use is that professional tree trimming is too expensive. Yes, it can be costly, but if you value your trees and want to keep your landscaping looking beautiful for years to come, it’s an investment that is worth the money. 

A few reasons to use a professional arborist for tree trimming include the following: 

  • Safer practices. While your methods may be daring, a pro is going to go the extra mile to protect themselves, your property, and surrounding landscaping. They come prepared with safety equipment and the knowledge to cut limbs to minimize the risk of danger or damage to surrounding property. 
  • Guaranteed results. Highly trained professionals from B&T’s Tree Service can guarantee results, so whether you want uniformity or more fruit production each year, someone with years of experience will be able to provide the information and services needed to produce the results you’re after. 

Better investment. Short-term, it may seem like a good investment to buy the tools to do the job yourself. But what most people don’t think about is the years that it takes to become proficient enough with these saws, pruning shears, and harnesses to produce the same results.