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The Do’s and Dont’s of DIY Tree Pruning: Advice from a Professional Tree Surgeon in Hampshire

by | Oct 23, 2023

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Tree pruning is an essential part of tree maintenance, and it involves the trimming or removal of specific parts of a tree, such as branches or roots. DIY tree pruning may seem like a simple task, but it can be dangerous and lead to permanent damage to your trees if done improperly. As a professional tree surgeon in Hampshire, I have seen the consequences of poorly executed tree pruning and would like to share some do’s and dont’s to ensure that your DIY tree pruning is successful and safe.

The Do’s of DIY Tree Pruning:

1. Do educate yourself: Before attempting any tree pruning, it is crucial to educate yourself about different tree species, pruning techniques, and safety measures. Each tree species has a unique growth pattern, so it is essential to understand the specific requirements of your tree before pruning it. Additionally, make sure to familiarise yourself with the proper equipment and techniques for pruning to ensure the best results.

2. Do choose the right time: Timing is crucial when it comes to tree pruning. It is recommended to prune trees during their dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring. Pruning during this time allows for optimal healing and growth for the tree. Avoid pruning during the summer or early Autumn, as this can leave the tree susceptible to disease and pest infestations.

3. Do assess the situation: Before you start pruning, take the time to thoroughly assess the situation. Look for any signs of damage or disease in the tree, as well as any potential hazards. If you notice signs of decay, disease, or evidence of pests, it is best to call a professional tree surgeon to handle the situation.

4. Do use proper equipment: Pruning requires the use of specific tools, including pruning shears, loppers, and pruning saws. It is crucial to use sharp, clean tools to make clean cuts and avoid damaging the tree. Dull or dirty equipment can cause unnecessary stress and harm to the tree. Also, make sure to use appropriate safety gear, such as gloves, goggles, and a hard hat, to protect yourself from falling debris.

5. Do start small: If you are new to tree pruning, it is best to start small and work your way up. Begin by removing dead or diseased branches and gradually move on to shaping or thinning the tree. This will help you get a feel for the process and avoid making any irreversible mistakes.

6. Do prune properly: When it comes to pruning, it is crucial to follow the correct techniques. Always make cuts just above a bud or branch to promote healthy growth. Avoid leaving stubs, as this can lead to rot and disease. Also, make sure to use proper pruning cuts, such as a branch collar cut or a heading cut, depending on the situation.

7. Do step back and observe: It is essential to take a step back and observe your work periodically. This will help you assess the tree’s appearance and ensure that you are achieving your desired results. It will also allow you to catch any mistakes early on and make necessary adjustments.

The Dont’s of DIY Tree Pruning:

1. Don’t over-prune: Over-pruning, also known as “topping,” can be extremely harmful to trees. This involves removing large portions of the tree’s canopy, leaving it vulnerable to disease and pest infestation. It also weakens the tree’s structure and can lead to a higher risk of storm damage.

2. Don’t prune too close to the trunk: Pruning too close to the trunk, also known as “flush cutting”, can be damaging to the tree. This creates large wounds that are difficult for the tree to heal and can leave it susceptible to pests and disease. Always make cuts just above a bud or branch junction to promote healthy growth.

3. Don’t use climbing spikes: Tree climbing spikes should only be used by trained professionals when removing the entire tree. Using them for pruning can cause unnecessary damage to the tree’s bark and increase the risk of disease. Instead, use a ladder or an aerial lift to reach higher branches.

4. Don’t ignore safety precautions: DIY tree pruning can be a dangerous task, and it is crucial to take proper safety precautions. Always wear appropriate safety gear and do not attempt to prune a tree in adverse weather conditions. Also, make sure to inform someone of your plans and have them nearby in case of an emergency.

5. Don’t forget to clean up: After completing your tree pruning, make sure to clean up any debris and dispose of it properly. Leaving debris on the ground can be a tripping hazard and may also promote disease and pests. Dispose of the waste in a designated garden waste area or call a professional to remove it for you.

DIY tree pruning can be a rewarding task, but it is essential to approach it with caution and proper knowledge. Educate yourself, use the right equipment, and follow proper techniques to ensure the best results. If in doubt, it is always best to consult a professional tree surgeon who can safely and effectively prune your trees. With these do’s and dont’s in mind, you can successfully maintain the health and beauty of your trees for years to come.

If you need professional help with your tree pruning, you can find out more about our tree pruning services here.