While we are delighted that so many of our clients don’t trim their own trees (we might be out of business if everyone did…) we also understand that DIY landscape maintenance is supremely satisfying. It gets you outdoors, allows you to form a relationship with your plants and trees and you get to see instantaneous results from all your hard work. Plus, anything you can do on your own – without the use of a professional - puts a little more money back in your pocket.
That being said, it’s imperative that you use best practices when pruning and grooming your own trees and shrubs. The wrong cut here or a careless whack there can seriously compromise your trees’ health, not to mention your own.
For that reason, we’ve put together a simple list of tree trimming tips from the pros here at Joshua Tree. We are also happy to meet with you on your property, to watch you in action, and show you a few pointers to improve your skills.
- Make sure each cut has a purpose. You don’t just trim and prune for the heck of it. You prune to clean dead, dying or diseased branches from the tree. Tree trimming is done to improve the shape of a tree, to train a tree or shrub to grow in a particular direction or shape and to promote a healthier canopy. It’s also done to protect buildings or structures from overgrown limbs that may be dangerous the next time the wind blows or the storms come in. Make sure you prune with a plan.
- Use the proper tools. Just as you wouldn’t use pruning shears to cut a large limb from a mature oak tree, you shouldn’t use a chain saw on shrubs or ornamental trees. This leads to permanent damage to trees, shrubs and humans – and can also mess up your tools. Know your pruning tools and use them wisely. Click here to see a great photo of typical pruning tools, courtesy of thegardendiaries.com.
- Take care of your tools. Any tradespeople know that they are only as good as the quality of their tools. If your tools are dull, in need of maintenance or low on lubrication, they aren’t going to perform as well as they should – and that makes for sub-par tree trimming and pruning. If you get serious about grooming your own landscape, you can learn to perform this routine maintenance on your own. Otherwise, take your tools into your local garden center and they can tune them up for you. In the meantime, keep them clean and dry.
- Get rid of diseased or infested limbs. If you are pruning diseased or infested limbs, you want to use a drop cloth below you - if they hit the ground, many of the diseases and pests will be happy to live for a while on the ground until they make their way to a new host – maybe the same tree or maybe others in your gardenscape. Then dispose of the diseased/infested parts properly so they can’t infect your remaining trees and shrubs - or the ones belonging to your neighbor.
- Use personal safety equipment. In the industry, we refer to personal safety equipment as PPE, and it’s a must. Long sleeves, pants, boots, gloves and safety goggles are the foundation. A hard hat is recommended and climbing gear is a must if you are ascending the tree for upper-level trimming work.
- Keep off the roof…Never prune trees or shrubs from ladders, rooflines or stepping stools. It’s just plain hazardous. You should use the tree itself or a secure lifting mechanism. You should also utilize a proper fall protection system if you will be working at a dangerous elevation level above the ground. You are pruning to maintain a healthy landscape for you and your family to enjoy for years – don’t let an unnecessary fall or pruning injury make your efforts for naught.
- Be patient. Patience is a virtue all right, and one that’s hard-learned for many of us. Even so, take your time and be patient when pruning your valuable trees and shrubs. Practice makes perfect with any life skill and by taking your time, you’ll avoid killing your favorite trees and shrubs while learning valuable skills that are honed over time.
Have a tree trimming or pruning question for the professionals? Give Joshua Tree a call, 610-365-2200, or contact us directly online to schedule an appointment. We are always happy to be of service.