Five Mistakes To Avoid While Trimming Trees

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Five Mistakes To Avoid While Trimming Trees

Healthy trees require periodic pruning. Unfortunately, pruning mistakes can compromise the health and beauty of your trees. Here are five mistakes and how to avoid them.

Branch Stubs

A common mistake is to leave behind branch stubs when pruning. A stub isn't just unattractive, it is more difficult for the tree to seal the damage incurred. Without proper sealing, the stub becomes a conduit for insect and disease issues. When tree trimming a branch completely from a tree, make sure to cut it even with the branch collar -- the small raised ridge where the branch connects to the trunk or a larger branch.

Bark Damage

The cutting out of large branches can damage the bark if done incorrectly. The most common mistake is to begin sawing from the top of the branch down. Eventually, the weight of the branch causes it to break off, often taking a strip of bark with it. Instead, saw about a third of the way through the branch from the bottom, then move to the top to finish the cut. Cutting this way relieves the stress of the weight so the branch doesn't tear away from the tree.

Disease Spread

If you are pruning more than one tree, or even just removing a few damaged branches from an otherwise healthy tree, then you need to be careful of spreading disease. Disease organisms like bacteria and fungal spores can stick to your pruner and saw, and then you are basically injecting these organisms into the next tree you cut into. Keep a bucket filled with a diluted bleach solution nearby as you prune, and clean your tools in the solution before moving between trees or infected branches.


It can be easy to cut off too much of a tree when you are pruning, which can weaken or even kill the plant. Use the rule of thirds as a basic guide. You should never trim out more than a third of the tree's branches when thinning the canopy, nor should you reduce the length of a branch by more than a third when trimming it back. If you are working at reducing the size of a tree, it may take several years to groom it using the rule of thirds, but your tree will be healthier.

Bare Tips

Bare branch tips are most obvious on conifers, but can affect any tree. If you cut back too far on a branch, there will be no more budding wood, so you end up with a bare branch. A similar issue is cutting back a branch in a way that leaves a bare tip poking out of the canopy. When cutting back a single branch, make your cut directly in front of a leaf or bud so that you aren't left with a bare tip.

Contact a tree trimming service for more help.

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Tropical Truths: Tips For Creating Vibrant Landscapes Growing up in a tropical area, I saw a lot of green, vibrant plants and all kinds of tropical fruits. It led me to develop a real interest in creating backyard tropical fruit gardens and landscapes that really spoke to the warm weather and the tropical climate. I did a lot of research and talked with a few landscapers to find out the tips and tricks to getting things to grow and thrive. I created this site to help share what I have learned with others who want to create the same kind of tropical getaway in their own backyards.