Be a part of the generation.

How, When, and Why to Prune Your Trees

If you’ve been following our journey for a little while, then you know we purchased a house in a neighborhood with a lot of trees. A big yard was kind of a requirement of ours to the point where one could argue that we purchased our house for the yard and schools. We’ve also added trees to fill in areas, since our neighborhood is older, and was built on a farm pasture. Last year, to celebrate earth day and the future of our home, we let the kids all pick their own tree to plant. It made an amazing little trip for our family when we wandered the makeshift forest of the local nursery. They learned about each tree, how large it can grow, and when it would show the most color, or bloom. When it was all said and done, each kid picked their own tree, as unique and different as their personalities. One thing we’ve learned with having a lot of trees, is that there is a little maintenance that comes with them from feeding, to pruning them. But the how when and why of pruning trees, can be a little confusing to people who aren’t used to them. So today we wanted to share some tips on pruning your trees to help them stay beautiful. Pruning: what tools should you use? The first thing you should remember is never to use a  chainsaw while on a ladder. Too many things could go wrong. This is one reason they invented pole saws. To those of us who are yard novices, A pole saw is exactly what you think it is, a saw on a pole. We’re big fans of our Greenworks Pole saw. It has a 10-inch blade that’s big enough to cut through any branch. Plus being battery operated, it starts with ease and you’re not fooling around with gas or that entire laborious start-up process while standing in the cold. No thanks. It cuts through limbs with ease, with zero power loss when compared to a gas one. This is something major we’ve noticed about all the Greenworks products we have added to our toolset over the last year.  (We talked more in detail about that here.) Pruning your trees: why? Safety and beauty. Beauty is pretty self-explanatory and generally seen in smaller, more ornamental trees. But it can also be to raise the canopy of the tree a little to show off the house or allow for growth underneath the tree. It can also help maintain the shape of a tree, or direct the growth. One thing you should never do is top a tree, or cut the top off. In fact, topping will increase the health risk of the tree in the long term. Topping will also add stress to the tree, as it can remove 50 to 100 percent of a tree’s leaf-bearing crown. So don’t do it. Most homeowners are mostly concerned with safety, either thinning a tree, trimming branches, or cutting off dead/dying limbs. Which is simple and easy to do when you have a pole saw. (Is it okay for me to say fun, too? Because it is.) We learned this fall that we may lose the tree in our front yard, {yes, Ashley has cried over it} and we’re having to remove a few of the larger dead branches that are starting to crack, so they’re no longer a danger to our kids or home. Pruning: a few simple guidelines • Protect your eyes and don’t stand under the tree limb. Yeah, we know. It seems obvious, right? • Only prune or cut the branches in late winter. This is when the tree is dormant and will cause the least amount of stress to the tree. The wounds will heal faster. They are also less prone to disease and it’s a lot easier to see what you’re doing when the leaves are gone. (Pruning with no leaves on the tree also means pruning with less weight on the limb, which makes the limb easier to cut and haul off.) • Have a plan. Are you pruning for dead and disease? For thinning? Or for shape? Clearly know or mark what you’re pruning, before you start. Once you cut, there’s no going back. • Take care not to damage limbs around the one you’re cutting. This may mean cutting the limb in smaller sections to prevent a large limb from crashing on a smaller one. • Mind your blade. Not only do you want to make sure you stay safe with your blade around people, make sure you stay safe with it around the tree. One of the most common accidents when using the pole saw is not catching the weight once the saw cuts through the branch. It can be easy for the saw to come through the intended cut and fall or bounce to another branch and cut into it. Open cuts invite disease and pests, and neither is good for a tree’s health. This tends to happen when the saw kicks back off the limb. This is another reason I love our Greenworks saw, as it seems to have a very quick stop time. But the key here is to maintain control at all times and don’t relax the weight of the saw into the branch. • For larger branches, make three simple cuts. The first cut should be about 18 inches away from the trunk. Make this cut from underneath and only about halfway through. Make the second cut about 1 inch farther out, but from the top of the branch. Once you cut to about the halfway point, the branch should snap free. Then make your third cut at the base of the branch from the top, cutting all the way through. Pruning trees is a necessary and often overlooked element of homeownership, but one that is super simple and easy with the right tool and basic knowledge. Follow the above simple guidelines and you should have a healthy and happy tree for the Spring and beyond. Of course, don’t forget to add that fertilizer… trees get hungry too. Thanks for tuning in today! Do you prune your trees? Let us know about your favorite Greenworks Tools – we’d love to hear!