Trimming Those Trees

Last November I wrote about seasonal tree maintenance, and not knowing what time people will have in the spring that late fall would perhaps be a good time to get some of those chores done.

For an unfortunate reason now a lot of people have more time on their hands this spring than expected.

I also just referred to the city of Pierre Tree Planting Guide for pruning instructions. Today I’d like to present those instructions.

The best time to trim healthy branches is late winter to early spring before buds start breaking out. Broken, damaged, dying, or dead branches should be removed immediately. Some people like to leave dead branches for birds, especially owls and raptors, to perch on. However the danger of those dead limbs falling onto something or someone must be considered. We have a very large dead cottonwood at the garden center at the base of the driveway leading up to the house that’s “for the birds.” All it will do is potentially block the driveway when it falls, so it stays.

For now. If it was near any structure or where people regularly congregate, it would’ve been gone long ago.

Always use sharp tools and wear protective gear if suggested. Safety glasses are a great idea even for the most simple trim job. Along the safety line, only attempt to cut what and where you feel comfortable.

Covering the cut areas with a tar or paint used to be the recommended procedure, however studies have shown that trees will seal the wounds themselves and the sealants can inhibit the natural healing process.

There is a proper cutting sequence that prevents bark tearing. For that refer to the illustration; of those cuts, cuts A and C – D are the most important. Always try to make the C – D cut along the branch collar when it’s visible. The C – D cut should result in the smallest possible exposed surface, making it easiest for the tree to heal the cut.

If you think the job is too big or structures are too close for comfort, contact a reliable tree trimming company for help.

(Art Smith is a co-owner of East Pierre Landscape and Garden Center, 5400 SD Hwy 34, Pierre.)

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