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Tree Pruning Mistakes and Tips

  • Written by The Bulletin

Each and every day experienced arborists get called out to properties where well-meaning homeowners with a set of hand tools have gone too far in the seasonal garden cleanup.

Chopping and lopping a tree back too far will set you back years, and it could even kill off the tree.

Spending the weekend in the garden is enormously rewarding and a great way to improve the state of your garden. When it comes to taking care of the established trees that you have on the property there are a few main mistakes that are avoidable.

We explore these below with tips on how to still get the most from your trees.

Incorrect Pruning For That Type Of Tree

Pruning Trees Too Early or Late. Trees should be pruned during their dormant season, typically between autumn and early spring.

Pruning during the wrong season can cause damage to the tree as it may be actively growing, making it more vulnerable.

Bad Pruning Technique

Refrain from simply hacking away at the tree. Take your time and strategically map out the best way to prune the tree back.

Pruning too much of a tree’s canopy in one sitting can shock the system and cause damage to the tree. It’s advised that you spread pruning out over a few years, removing no more than 25% of the total foliage from the tree in any single year.

Incorrect Tools And Equipment

It’s important to have the correct tools for the job. Invest in a good quality pair of loppers and pruners, as well as a pruning saw if necessary. Tools should be sharpened regularly to ensure that you can make clean cuts with minimal damage to the tree.

Going Too Far - Have You Removed Too Much Of The Tree?

Tree Lopping/Pruning is the careful selection of certain parts of the tree. The overall goal is to let the remaining parts of the tree flourish.

Knowing when to prune and when to stop takes special knowledge and experience. If you feel that you have gone too far in pruning your tree, it’s important to call in a trained arborist who can assess the damage and provide assistance. It’s possible to reverse some of the effects of bad pruning but only if caught early enough.

Signs that you have pruned too much of the tree:

- Branches begin to die off or become discoloured and wilted.

- The crown of the tree (the leaves) is sparse, thinning, and dying back.

- Multiple dead branches are visible throughout the tree.

- Bark begins to flake off in larger pieces than normal.

- Leaves become misshapen or smaller than normal.

Getting The Professionals In, When To Make The Call

So, you have lopped off too much? Or, you simply don't have the time and/or equipment to get the job done?

A professional tree lopping and pruning service will have the right tools, equipment, and know-how to get the job done correctly. 

They can handle a range of tasks from removing deadwood, thinning out dense crowns, raising canopy heights for more light and airflow to your garden or removing trees completely if necessary.

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