Tree pruning, when done correctly, should result in safe, healthy and beautiful trees. A certified arborist is trained to understand when a tree needs to be pruned and why, but also skilled in proper tree pruning techniques. If you’re unsure what you are doing, it’s always best to avoid potential costly follies and contact us with any questions you may have. While it may seem doable, the truth is that DIY tree pruning can be dangerous, difficult, and costly—especially if something below the tree is crushed by a falling branch. Here are the reasons why it’s best to leave your trees to the pros, and hire a Portland tree pruning service.
DIY Tree Pruning is a Dangerous Job
Start with chainsaws, ladders, and handsaws. Throw in heights and manual labor, and you see why pruning trees has a high rate of injury. The US Census Bureau lists tree trimming as one of the most dangerous jobs in the US. Consider how much more dangerous tree trimming is for the amateur. Indeed, the Tree Care Industry found 47 accidents involving property owners attempting tree care in 2012 alone—and 25 of those accidents were fatal.
Part of the danger lies in the fact that it’s not easy for the layperson to distinguish a rotten branch from a healthy one. Should you transfer your weight to a rotten branch, it could give way beneath you and cause serious damage to you and your home, not to mention the tree.
Moreover, tree pruning requires the use of sharp tools at elevated heights. For instance, a homeowner may attempt DIY tree pruning with a chainsaw while standing on a ladder. This sort of coordination requires special safety precautions that are unavailable to the average homeowner. Arborists have the tools and safety equipment needed to prune trees effectively and safely. This includes safety harnesses, bucket trucks, professional ladders, and more.
Poor Pruning Could Cause Future Damage and Danger
Trees require consistent, expert pruning for proper health. Trees that haven’t been properly pruned are often weakened and therefore hazardous. In some cases, a single strong gust of wind could blow down a branch or a whole tree that has been inadequately pruned. One example is “topping,” the unfortunate practice of trimming off a significant portion of a tree’s crown, often under the misguided idea that this will cause increase blooming. Instead, the tree is left deformed, ugly, and severely weakened. A tree that has been topped is more likely to develop disease and rot, becoming a hazard.
Ultimately, having a Portland certified arborist do the work will actually protect you, your home, your family, and the tree.
Common Mistakes Made with DIY Tree Pruning
Homeowners may cut through a branch, only to see it crush the roof or car when attempting to prune a tree. On the other hand, arborists have the expertise to properly assess, plan, and carry out pruning projects without causing property damage. For those who decide to attempt DIY tree pruning without proper knowledge and preparation, here are some of the more common mistakes they make:
- Using dull tools – Maybe you’ve never done much, if any, tree pruning before and the tools you have in your shed or garage have seen better days. Old overused tools may be dull, which makes the healing process longer since branches are not cleanly cut. Besides, it makes your job more physically challenging. Sharpen your tools or look into investing in new ones.
- Not sanitizing tools – You wouldn’t want a doctor performing surgery with unsanitized surgical instruments, right? That analogy is not as crazy as you may think. After all, you are performing a kind of surgery on a living thing, and if you are doing it without cleaning your tools, you may transfer soil-borne diseases from the previous plants they were used on.
- Topping or lopping – Thinking it’s okay to cut branches anywhere to achieve the desired effect – maybe they are encroaching on your home – is probably the most common misconception about caring for trees. Giving your tree a “crew cut” or “topping” is also referred to as “lopping.”
Simply put, lopping is the act of cutting a branch in spots other than a union or node. This creates a less attractive growth pattern, but more importantly, weakens the new branch structure. It can also make your tree more susceptible to fungal infections. You could be creating health issues for your tree, but also a hazard for you and your family.
- Over lifting – Also called lion tailing, this is when a person removes all the lower branches of a tree, making it top heavy and more susceptible to branch failure.
- Over pruning – Don’t get carried away when pruning a tree. You should never remove more than 25 percent of its leaf-bearing crown, even less when you are dealing with a mature tree. The surgery analogy applies here as well. Just as it takes an older person longer to heal from a surgical procedure, the same holds true for trees healing after pruning.
- Flush cutting – This is when someone cuts a branch flush against the trunk or a main branch. It can cause a number of problems, including uneven bark and the potential for disease, fungus and pests.
Portland tree pruning services
While you may be well-intentioned, DIY tree pruning without fully understanding the proper means of doing so may not only compromise your tree’s health, but create future safety risks. Call us today and we’ll be happy to ensure you have a safe and healthy tree for many years to come.