7 Tree Pruning Mistakes: How to Avoid Bad Tree Pruning

If you have trees on your property, you might be in the market for a tree pruning and trimming service, or maybe you are interested in DIY tree pruning. Whether it’s because you understand that tree pruning is good for the health of the tree or it’s just that your tree is getting wildly out of control, you want to hire a professional that you can trust to perform this important service properly. If you are interested in DIY tree pruning, you also need to know how to correctly prune a tree.

First and foremost, you should know that tree trimming and tree pruning are not the same thing (even though these terms are used interchangeably sometimes).

Here are the differences.

  • Tree trimming is generally talked about in terms of shrubs and hedges and is a service used to tidy their appearance. More specifically, it’s generally talked about in terms of reducing their size and tightening their form.
  • Tree pruning is performed on trees and shrubs whose health and growth capabilities are greatly improved when infected, dead, and broken branches are cut away with a skillful approach. It has an aesthetic impact, but it’s more than just “cleaning things up.” While it can minimally correct the overall size and shape of a tree, pruning is meant to correct the overall structure and health of the tree—not just chop off growth like most people imagine when they think of trimming a shrub.

It’s also important to recognize that there are right and wrong ways to perform tree pruning. The last thing that you want is to do is ruin your trees with bad tree pruning. Here are some helpful tree pruning tips.

Tree Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

1. Tree Topping

Tree topping is an outdated and even dangerous practice that unfortunately still gets performed from time to time—even though it’s been proven to be detrimental to the tree. If you’ve ever driven through your neighborhood and seen trees lopped in half, then you’ve witnessed tree topping.
Tree with tree topping pruning
Topping can lead to a variety of problems which we discuss in detail in the article linked above. But to sum it up, when you top a tree, it causes more harm by good by putting your tree at risk of decay, disease, and insect infestations. It also puts a tremendous amount of stress on the tree. Although tree topping is performed on trees that people feel have gotten “too large for their property,” the ironic thing is that tree topping generally forces a tree to grow back faster. Within two to three years, the tree could be back to its original size.

2. Lion’s Tailing

This is another example of bad tree pruning. Lion’s tailing is a process of removing a large number of inner tree branches. This creates the look of a lion’s tail with limbs looking long and slender with a foliage puff on the end.

Unfortunately, this will increase the risk of limb failure by weakening the tree. The inner limbs play an important role during a storm when it comes to keeping the tree intact. A lion’s tailed branch will be heavy on its ends and more prone to falling during a storm.

While this is a big tree pruning mistake, we still see it performed by inexperienced “pros.”

3. Seasonal Pruning Mistakes

One thing that people don’t always realize is that certain trees need to be pruned at certain times of the year. There can be a seasonality to pruning that sometimes gets ignored by do-it-yourselfers or even inexperienced professionals. But the trouble with pruning a tree at the wrong time of the year is that you could inhibit it from blooming.

Use This Helpful Guide to Know When Your Trees Need Pruning 
When pruning certain species at the wrong time of the year, you can also put a lot of stress on the tree. This can leave it prone to pest, disease, or even environmental problems.

4. Using Spikes to Prune a Tree

Tree pruning services should not be using spikes on a tree that they are not planning on removing. When tree spikes are used for climbing, they cause wounds to the bark which can allow disease to begin taking hold of the tree.
tree service pruning tree in bucketWhen performing the pruning service and lowering limbs, it’s also important to take care that the tree bark isn’t injured during this process, as well. When this is performed carelessly, the bark of the trunk can be injured in the process.

Tree trunk injuries will put added stress on the tree and potentially allow disease and decay to creep in.

5. Pruning with the Wrong Tools

To correctly prune a tree you need the proper tools. As with any specialty trade, there are certain tools that are necessary to perform the task properly. Unfortunately even some tree pruning pros use the wrong tools and put added stress on the tree. Some tree pruning companies use chainsaws to prune small or medium trees instead of a handsaw and hand pruners.
Tree care technician pruning a limbIt’s important to remember that when pruning, you are making a cut that the tree must heal from. When these are strategically made with the right tools, the tree will recover well. But any added or unnecessary stress (such as a jagged cut from a chainsaw blade) can challenge the natural process of recovery.

6. Pruning Just Planted Trees

When trees are first planted, they are already under a lot of stress as they go through the process of adapting to their new conditions. This is not the time to add stress by performing a tree pruning service. The only pruning cuts that should be made to “just planted” trees is on deadwood. Besides removing the deadwood, plan to wait one year until beginning pruning.

7. Choosing an Inexperienced Tree Pruning Service

When it comes to avoiding these tree pruning mistakes, it will be important to select the best tree pruning service.

Finding a reputable service will involve some research on your part but it’s important when it comes to feeling confident that you’ve made a wise choice. You should spend time on the website of any company that you’re considering and find out what they’re all about. Be sure to look for companies with Certified Arborists on staff.

Watch This Video on How to Choose the Best Tree Service

Also, avoid shopping for tree pruning services on price alone as you put yourself at risk of hiring a company that cuts corners. By paying a little bit more for a company that invests in proper training and best practices, as well as top-notch equipment, you can expect to get more value out of your own investment.

Professional Tree Pruning Services in Pennsylvania

Now that you have a better understanding of how to correctly prune a tree, you want to feel confident that you are making the best choice and choosing a company who is not going to make these mistakes (or others). By choosing the right company, you can trust that your tree care professionals are doing what’s needed to protect your investment in your tree. Instead of causing you future problems - or hassles or headaches - your tree will be on its way to better health.

If you’d like to have a tree on your Lehigh, Bucks or Montgomery County, PA area property assessed, contact us for a free consultation. Then you can rest assured knowing that we’ve got it completely under control.
Signs that you need tree pruning by a tree service in Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA

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