Trees require regular pruning to grow healthy and look nice, but using the wrong pruning methods can be even more detrimental than not pruning at all. The following are five common tree trimming mistakes that you will definitely want to avoid.
Topping is the process of cutting the top of a tree off, generally so that the tree looks flat, in the mistaken attempt to control the height of the tree. A topped tree has poor form and weak branches, which means it is more likely to split or suffer from diseases. Topped trees are also unattractive trees that may never recover a fully leafed out canopy again.
Thinning out overgrown and rubbing branches in a tree canopy is usually a good thing, but it can go too far. As a basic rule of thumb, you should never remove more than a quarter to a third of the tree canopy. Thinning out too many branches can weaken a tree by not leaving enough foliage in place to support the tree's nutrient needs.
3. Branch Stubs
A branch stub is left behind when a branch isn't completely removed from the canopy. For example, instead of removing the branch back to the trunk, several inches are left protruding from the trunk. A tree can't easily heal over a stub, so the deadwood is left exposed to disease-causing organisms. Cut branches back flush to the branch collar at the base, and the tree can quickly seal over the wound.
4. Collar Cutting
The opposite issue to branch stubs is cutting into the collar. The collar is the raised ring of wood at the base of every branch where it joins to the tree trunk. If you cut into this collar, the tree won't be able to heal. The wound will typically seep sap for a while, providing an inlet for fungal, viral, and bacterial pathogens. Instead, make any pruning cuts flush to the collar but not though it.
5. Deep Pruning
Deep pruning is primarily an issue on evergreens. Evergreen branches do not produce new needles on the first third or so of the branch from where it joins to the trunk. If you cut back too far on a branch, into this bare wood, you will end up with a permanent bald spot on your evergreen tree.
Contract a tree trimming service so you won't need to worry about these mistakes.