When the trees in your yard start getting too tall, unruly, or generally big, you might be tempted to avoid the “professional fees” that come with hiring a team of arborists Brisbane can offer. Instead, you might consider a DIY pruning project for your own trees. But with no training or experience, there are a ton of ways you can mess it up, endangering you, your tree, or even your family.
So our pros here at Aussie Tree Solutions have put together a list of the 7 most common tree pruning mistakes, and exactly how you can avoid them.
1. Trimming Off The Top (Topping)
Trimming off the top (also known as topping) is perhaps the most common mistake there is, simply because it just sounds right. You can’t go wrong if you just take a bit off the top, right?
Well, no. The issue is that topping helps to promote the growth of suckers. Also known as water sprouts, these thin, twig-like sprouts grow immediately after a tree has been topped. They take away essential tree from the tree, sapping the energy for their own growth. If you’ve topped your tree already and you see these suckers around the top, they need to be removed right away.
2. Cutting at the Trunk
For those perfectionists out there, it might make sense to cut branches right down to their base, or the exact place where they connect to the trunk. After all, what’s the point of leaving any part of a branch if you want it gone, right?
This is known as cutting the branch collar, and it’s a huge issue with many DIY tree pruners. When you cut a branch right down to its connection with the trunk (the branch collar), you open the trunk to decay and infection. The trunk needs to be protected, which is why it’s essential that you leave a bit of the branch when you cut it off.
3. Taking Out the Largest Branches
Just like any living creature, a tree can experience traumatic damage. And one common way DIY pruners inflict trauma on their tree without realizing it is by cutting the biggest branches off.
The bigger the branch, the more important it becomes to the tree’s entire system. In general, you want to avoid cutting branches that are 10 centimeters or wider in diameter, as these can be too big of a loss for the tree.
4. Leaving Just the Stubs
While you don’t want to cut all the way to the branch collar, it’s also important to not leave too much of the branch behind. This is known as leaving a stub cut, in which too much of the branch is left uncut, stunting the regrowth or healing process.
Generally, you will want to leave around 5-8 centimetres of the branch from the branch collar. This is around the perfect length to ensure that the trunk remains safe from decay, but the branch is still capable of healing properly.
5. Damaging The Bark
When you do any kind of work on your tree, the first step is always to plan. You might assume that you can just go for the biggest branches and call it a day, but without proper planning and execution, you risk damaging your tree bark when your larger branches fall down.
Keeping the tree bark safe and intact is essential towards maintaining the tree’s health. When you cut a heavy branch higher up on the tree, try to use the three-cut method to keep it away from the trunk. This involves starting the cut from the bottom, so that it won’t break and rip the bark.
6. Pruning Too Much
Many first-time pruners think they can skip all the planning and execution if they just prune as much as possible. Also known as lion-tailing, over-pruning is a huge issue, and can lead to several issues, including:
- Sucker growth
- Branch breakage
- Branches heavy on the end
- Severe tree stress
To avoid over-pruning, try to leave a good amount of inner lateral branches in your tree. These branches help to maintain the weight and balance the stress of the tree.
7. Not Calling The Pros
The worst you can make? Trying to do it yourself! Tree pruning is an art, and requires the experience and understanding that only a team of professional arborists possess. Taking care of your tree is just like taking care of your body, and you wouldn’t trust DIY surgery, would you?