A tree on your property is a lot more than a simple luxury: it provides shade, privacy, a home for beneficial wildlife, and a place for children to play. In fact, studies have even been done to demonstrate the benefits of trees to mental and physical health. Lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, and improved sleeping habits are among the health benefits that have been touted for people living in proximity to trees.
There’s an economic benefit as well: studies have also shown that trees have a positive impact on property value. There’s also the fact that, simply by providing shade, trees can help reduce your energy costs during hot summers.
Your trees do a great deal to care for you, so how can you care for them in return? Your trees don’t ask for much, but an occasional trimming is an important part of their health. With the right tools—and a little caution—this is often a job you can undertake on your own. Below, we’ve offered some hints and tips on how to trim trees yourself:
Purpose of Trimming
The main reasons for trimming your tree are for aesthetic purposes and to ensure improved tree health by increasing airflow to the branches you don’t remove. Indeed, if the branches on your tree are growing too thickly, this can actually promote the growth of harmful fungi and bacteria. Periodically, you should thin the tree branches to keep the tree in good health.
When working with trees, especially larger ones, safety should always be your most important consideration. If it’s not possible to perform a task safely with the tools that are available to you, contact a professional tree arborist, such as one from Mr. Tree, rather than attempt to do the job yourself anyway.
Your first step should be to ensure you have the proper safety gear. You’ll be working with sharp tools and will be exposed to sawdust and other irritants. You need to ensure that your whole body is protected. That means a thick pair of gloves, a good pair of shoes with nonslip rubber soles, long pants, and a long-sleeve shirt. Eye protection and a hardhat are also musts. If you will be using power tools, such as a chainsaw, you also need some type of ear protection. Finally, if you’re trimming a large tree that you’ll need to climb into, you need to get a harness and some ropes.
Another critical factor when safely trimming trees: never work alone. You need at least one partner who can assist you with your tasks and serve as a spotter. While you climb, they should remain on the ground, and vice versa, just in case something happens.
Right Tools for the Job
Depending upon the size of the job you, you likely need one or several different tools. If you intend to only remove small branches, you only need a pair of pruning shears. On the other hand, if you intend to cut larger branches, you probably need a handsaw. For larger limbs, you may need a tree trimmer or chainsaw.
may use for your tree trimming job. If the tools aren’t cleaned properly, they can spread diseases to the branches of your tree and to other trees. You can wipe the tools down with isopropyl alcohol or dip them in a bleach solution. Make sure that the tools are completely dry after you have disinfected them to prevent rust.
Size Up the Scene
Before attempting to trim any trees, you need to ensure you are aware of any and all potential hazards in the area. Take a look around. Are there any power lines nearby? If so, it may not be safe to climb into the tree. What about the tree itself? Are there any damaged or loose limbs? Does the tree overhang a road? Will there be cars driving by as you attempt to work?
If any of these factors appear to pose a risk, do not attempt to trim the tree yourself. Contact a professional at Mr. Tree to perform the job safely instead.
Climbing Into the Tree
When you climb into the tree, you need to take your own safety, as well as the health of the tree, into consideration. If you aren’t careful, you can accidentally gouge holes in the trunk of your tree, which can render it vulnerable to disease. For smaller trees, you can access the branches by simply climbing a ladder. For larger trees, however, the ladder may not get you all the way to the top. In this case, you need to make sure you have a climbing harness connected to a rope, which you have to hook in a safe place in the tree.
When climbing into a tree, take it very slowly. Make sure you test limbs and branches before putting any weight on them. Large limbs, in particular, can become vulnerable to breakage, especially if the tree is sick or there has been rough weather recently.
Trimming the Tree
When considering how to trim a tree yourself, you have to keep in mind that a professional tree trimmer doesn’t simply climb into the tree and start cutting away. In fact, if you begin trimming with too much enthusiasm, you risk damaging the tree or rendering it less aesthetically pleasing.
Small branches should be clipped off with your pruning shears, but this should be done with great care to avoid damaging what is known as the branch collar. The branch collar is where the part where the tree branch connects to the larger tree limb. If the branch collar is damaged during pruning, the tree will struggle to heal and may become vulnerable to disease and attacks from pests.
Larger branches require the use of your handsaw. Once again, you don’t want to damage the branch collar or you risk harming the tree. You should start by cutting a small notch in the branch you wish to remove. Gradually, you can then saw through the tree branch until it falls. Always make sure the area beneath the tree is clear of people before you let any branches fall.