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Can Tree Trimming Kill Trees? 

Can Tree Trimming Kill Trees? 

The simple answer to this question is yes, improper pruning can definitely kill your trees. There are some drastic mistakes that you have to avoid when pruning or trimming, otherwise you may be obliged to watch your trees slowly fade away. There are several reasons why you might want to prune your trees, including to reduce its size, to open up the canopy more, to enhance the shape, to remove dead growth, or to remove obstructions. Whatever your particular reason may be, make sure to avoid the mistakes below, so you won’t damage your plants and trees in any way.

Do pruning at the right time

Winter is one of the best times to do pruning and trimming, because your plants are dormant at that time. That means it’s much less stressful for the plant, and since the leaves are generally absent, you’ll also be able to see the underlying form and structure of your plants much better. You should avoid pruning in the fall, because pruning cuts tend to stimulate new growth, and that new growth will be killed when the temperatures plummet.

You should also avoid pruning any leaf or flower buds, because these will bloom next spring. Finally, make sure not to prune your bushes and trees when they may be vulnerable to any kind of disease or pests going through the area. If you make pruning cuts at this time, it’s much easier for that disease or infestation to get inside your plants and cause damage.

Don’t make flush cuts

Probably the most common pruning error made by people is making flush cuts. This happens when you trim a branch off right next to the trunk or bark of the tree. This might look neat and streamlined, but this kind of cut removes the branch collar, and that collar is necessary for forming a seal over any cut which is made.

This means the plant will not be able to close over the cut you’ve made, and that will provide an opening for insects and pathogens to easily get inside the plant and kill or damage it. You can easily avoid making a flush cut by first finding the branch collar, which is an enlarged area right around the base of any particular branch, and then cut just forward of that collar. When you cut in this area, it stimulates the tissue in the branch collar to grow over the wound and seal it.

Don’t make stub cuts

These kinds of cuts are just the opposite of flush cuts, in that they will generally leave a branch sticking out so long that the branch collar is unable to grow over it and close the wound. You will know if you have made a stub cut if the branch which protrudes is long enough that you can hang your hat on it.

Don’t do lion-tailing

If you haven’t heard the term lion-tailing before, it refers to the practice of removing interior branches, and just keeping the plant growth at the end of branches. This is always a bad practice because it removes too much foliage, and that’s needed for photosynthesis. It also compromises the tree structure by concentrating weight at the ends of branches.

Another reason it’s a bad idea is that it tends to leave open the crown to damage by the sun or wind. Lion-tailing also increases the stress response along branches and the trunk of the tree. These kinds of reaction sprouts are a sign that over-pruning has been done, and it causes the tree to put out new growth quickly, so it can re-establish more foliage for photosynthesis.

Contact the Professionals

As always, if you’re concerned about causing any harm to your trees, please reach out to us here at B & B Tree Services and we would be happy to discuss with you how we can help you to safely trim your trees!