Quick Guide On How To Trim Tree Branches

Most people can confidently give their trees everything they need to stay healthy: mulch, water, and fertilizer. Trimming is something that scares most people. It feels like uncharted territory because the wrong cuts can actually harm your tree. Large pruning jobs must always be left to the experts. This post looks at the things you need to do when trimming small branches.

When Is DIY Tree Trimming Okay?

In tree care, it is okay to trim a small tree with lightweight branches as well as canopy at eye level. Pruning should be left to the experts if you have to climb the tree or use a ladder to get to the target branches. You must also not attempt to trim your tree by yourself if it is too close to a power line or if the branches are large and too heavy.

How To Trim The Small Branches Yourself

The first thing you need to do is learn how to trim just one branch before moving forward to trim a small tree. Here are the things you need to do.

  • Clean & Sharp

    Ensure your pruning tool is clean and sharp. Blunt tools will damage the tree.

  • Learn About The Parts

    Learn about the parts of the branch and tree. For example, the branch collar is the swelled-up area below the branch that connects it to the tree. With some tree species, it is not easy to spot the branch collar. The branch bark is the part between the trunk and the branch that is raised higher than the branch. If you take the branch as an arm, the bark ridge is the shoulder whereas the branch collar is the underarm.

  • Identify The Parts

    Identify the part you want to cut. You need to make a cut slightly beyond the branch collar. You don’t want to cut the collar but you also don’t want to leave a stub.

  • Skinny Branches

    For skinny branches, ones whose diameter is no bigger than one inch, you need to find a spot beyond the collar and cut at 45 to 60 degrees angle to the bark ridge.

  • Thicker Branches

    For thicker branches, you need the three-cut rule. Cut 10 to 15 inches from the branch collar, cut halfway in the bottom of the branch. You then move several inches up past the cut and cut into the branch and let it fall. The final cut should be made past the branch collar.

How To Trim A Small Tree

The process of removing branches is the same although some factors come into play.

  • Select The Branches

    Select the branches you will cut and the ones you will not touch. Keep branches that are growing at 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock angles from the trunk and trim the ones that are not. You also need to remove the branches that are growing across the interior of the tree.

  • Clean The Clutter

    Don’t remove more than 25% of the tree’s canopy. Clean the clutter, prune dead twigs and branches and cut out the water sprouts.

  • Younger Trees

    For younger trees, prune the limbs that are competing with the leader branch.

Pruning incorrectly or too often can actually kill your tree. Cutting the branch collar will also be a major error. If you are not sure of what you are doing, leave the work to the experts. 

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