When it comes to outdoor chores, few are easier than tree trimming, right? After all, you only need a saw, some clippers, a reasonably tall ladder, and a garbage bin in which to place the clippings. Well, think again. Tree trimming and pruning professionals might make such work seem easy, but you need to arm yourself with more than just the tools of the trade. Attempting to shape your shrubbery and trees without the proper knowledge can result in a mangled mess. Pruning the right way means understanding what, when, and how to cut.

The Right Kinds of Cuts

Though people often treat “trimming” and “pruning” as though they simply refer to the thinning out of branches, the words actually hide a wealth of technical detail behind their dictionary definitions. For instance, pruning can have multiple purposes, including enhancing views, prompting fresh growth, and ensuring the safety of passersby and property.

The first consideration, though, is usually aesthetic, and this is where fine pruning that improves a plant’s appearance comes into play.

Standard pruning alters the structure of a tree, usually with the goal of training it to take a new kind of shape.

Safety pruning often deals with the removal of dangerous deadwood or thickly grown sections that could pose a risk to the tree as a whole during high winds or winter chills.

Crown reduction comes into play when a tree has gotten too big for its proverbial britches and often involves the snipping away of crossing branches. Of course, it almost goes without saying that having someone trim or prune who doesn’t know the difference between these types of cuts can spell disaster.

A Time and Season for Everything

When you prune matters as much as what you prune. Feel free to indulge in occasional fine pruning or deadwood removal whenever you’d like. Other types of trimming, though, can radically change a tree’s development. Pruning during winter will typically lead to explosive growth during spring, while trimming during summer does the opposite, retarding the development of cut limbs. Any flowering tree will flourish when trimmed at the end of its blooming cycle, but avoid pruning around autumn. Mold and fungi flourish during that time of year and can damage your plants.

Hallmarks of Proper Pruning

If all of this seems like a big undertaking, that’s because it is. Homeowners with lots of ornamental and mature trees might want to consider hiring a professional. But how can you tell whether or not tree trimming and pruning has been done properly? An expert should always cut big branches in such a way that the bark doesn’t tear away in strips down the tree’s trunk and secure them with ropes ahead of time to make sure they don’t plummet to the earth. A true professional should also never use climbing gaffs. Though convenient, these steel spikes can cause irreparable cosmetic harm and introduce an insect infestation. Any company worth its salt should have tall enough ladders, ropes, and safety harnesses, or lifts available. Finally, you don’t want to deal with rough or ragged cuts. Such carelessness can harm the health of the tree and lead to unsightly die back.

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