Trim Your Trees to Prevent Falling Branches

Time - 1 - 3 hours

Crack, snap, CRASH — sounds no homeowner wants to hear in their yard. It’s probably that old tree you’ve been eyeing all summer. But this doesn’t have to be you. All you need is a few hours and some trimmers to keep your home safe and sound from those dead tree branches.

What’s in it for you?

  • Healthy trees
  • No falling branches
  • Improved safety

(Show me How)

Trim Your Trees to Prevent Falling Branches

  1. Assess the situation. Do you have a clear view of the branches? Are they too high up for you to get to with a ladder? Are they touching any power lines? If you have to climb a tree or there’s a risk of entanglement with power lines, call an arborist. And please wear a hard hat. Safety first, people.

  2. Use hand pruners to trim the suckers. Grab your handy-dandy hand pruners (scissors specially designed to cut plants) and search out the suckers (small, upright branches growing from the base of your tree in groups). Snip, snip, snip — you’ll want to get as close to the base of the suckers as possible without cutting the tree trunk. See some under the soil? You should be able to grab these and pull them out with just a little leverage.

  3. Find dead tree branches and figure out where to cut them. Snap away— and we don’t mean your fingers. If you try to bend a smaller branch and it snaps without arching, the bigger branch it’s attached to is done for. Find the point on the upper surface where this bigger branch fuses with the tree trunk or another (even bigger) branch — this Branch Bark Ridge is where you’ll want to cut.

  4. Cut off dead branches. Grab a sharp, clean saw (standard or pole, depending on how far away the branch is) and begin cutting at the edge of the Branch Bark Ridge with the saw angled downward. You’ll need to avoid the Branch Collar — a swollen point on the bottom surface of the branch. If you damage this, the tree won’t be able to heal the wound you’re creating.

  5. Remove branches that overlap or rub together. The rubbing results in openings and openings result in disease and rot. If you leave these branches untouched, both of them will die. Best to save the healthier one now.

  6. Balance the tree. Take a step back and check your work — does one side of the tree look bigger than the other? If so, remove a few branches from the heavier side. But not too many! Keep at least ¾ of the branches you started with.

Pro Tip: Never remove branches that are growing straight up. The remaining stump will collect water, making it prone to mold growth.

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