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First of all, we prefer to use the words tree pruning when talking about tree trimming. Many a tree guy can trim trees but only a few can execute proper tree pruning. With that said, we will refer to tree pruning as tree trimming for the sake of search engine results. Proper tree trimming throughout the life of a tree allows trees to safely live within our urban forest without threatening lives or property. In turn, these same trees provide everyone in the environment with many valuable rewards.
Often customers call us with a specific reason for trimming their trees. When one of O’Neils expert estimators is on your property we properly address the issue you have called about and we have a look at the whole picture. O’Neils will offer and recommend steps that can be taken to increase the safety, value, aesthetics and the overall health of all the trees and plants on your property.
Types of Tree Trimming
Here we will discuss a few common types of tree trimming (all of which that O’Neil Tree Service provides).
Reduction pruning reduces the length of one or many stems that are generally over valuable targets, e.g. homes, sidewalks, streets, cars, etc. Reduction is used to reduce the size of a tree, reduce the weight load on defective parts and overextended limbs. This type of pruning reduces chances of failure and increases the overall safety of trees on your property during wind events. This type of pruning greatly increases (far more than most other types of pruning) the chances of your tree surviving a high wind event. There can be many negative side effects to this type of pruning unless performed properly.
Another type of tree trimming that is requested often is called a crown raising or a crown elevation. This type of trimming is performed when a branch or branches have grown down towards the roof of a building, over a street, a sidewalk or a yard that has activity that is hindered by the low branches.
Elevation uses reduction cuts (this is different than reduction pruning) to increase the vertical clearance from homes, roads, yards, sidewalks and driveways etc. We perform this type of pruning more than any other.
A Crown elevation or raising is best done by removing smaller diameter branches (especially the ones growing at the ground) from the branch tips in order to allow the limb or branch to naturally lift up. This usually allows the branch to give the height needed clearance below without damaging the tree. Often a mistake made while performing this task is removing the interior foliage on the branch being lifted, making the branch or branches more susceptible to failure as well as increasing growth at the tip. This means that the tree will have to be trimmed again in the near future. When trees are improperly trimmed they have to be trimmed more often which means that it costs you more in the long run.
A common thought a customer may have when it is time to trim his or her trees is, “More is better”. The average homeowner believes this to be true typically for two reasons. He or she thinks the tree will take longer to grow back which means less time before the next trim, and it makes more debris which makes them feel that they got more bang for the buck. Unfortunately this is not true it is exactly the opposite. Trees that are over trimmed will need to be trimmed more often because this excessive trimming causes the tree to overgrow. A tree does this to gain back the energy that has been taken from it. Some may say that this new fast growth is a good sign. However, this is not the case, this is very stressful on a tree and it develops new weakened growth. This new weakened growth is a result of the tree dipping into its energy reserves to regenerate foliage to make more energy. This is a counter productive action for a tree as you could imagine.
The number one recommended type of tree trimming on a young tree is called structural pruning. This type of pruning is not recommended on a mature tree as it cannot withstand the amount of foliage loss that structural pruning will take.
Structural Pruning is a developmental type of pruning to train a tree to grow more ideally in the urban environment like it would have grown in the forest. We do this by removing or reducing competing stems or leaders to create a more upright growth habit which increases strength and reduces the risk of failure. Structural pruning typically is performed on young trees that have enough vigor to withstand the negative side effects associated with this type of pruning. This type of pruning is most often used to improve the structure and growth habit of young trees.
Structural pruning takes a fair amount of careful thought because it can drastically change the outcome of a tree. Structural pruning is done by selecting a main leader (central point) in the tree and subordinating (reducing in size) all the other branches in order to obtain a more structurally sound tree. Branches of similar length and diameter will compete for nutrition and light often weakening the structural integrity of the tree. Structural pruning ensures that this does not happen and it also increases the wind resistance of a tree a great deal. In Florida, many customers call us to get their trees ready for hurricane season. This type of pruning, if performed correctly during the first twenty years of a tree’s life, will be the difference between a tree that survives winds well, without taking a lot of damage or being responsible for a lot of damage, or not at all.
Deadwooding is the removal of dead, diseased, broken and detached branches generally 1”- 2” in diameter or greater. This will increase safety by reducing the chances of an unexpected dead branch falling suddenly but does not have an effect on the overall health of the tree.
The number one recommended type of tree trimming on a mature tree is what we in the arbicultural world call a crown cleaning. A crown cleaning is performed by removing diseased, decayed, rubbing and cracked branches. A crown cleaning produce a number of desired effects. First and foremost it removes the branches that can damage property or harm people. Secondly, crown cleaning takes away the entrance points for insects and disease, which typically attack at the points of decay. Thirdly, a crown cleaning will increase the overall aesthetics of your trees and the landscape in which they live.
The last most common tree trimming requested is crown thinning. This type of trimming is commonly requested but rarely performed correctly. Many customers and “tree trimmers” seem to misunderstand this pruning practice and instead lions tailing is performed. Lions tailing is: the removal of a majority of the internal foliage in a tree and often most of the outer canopy is not touched. This makes a large mess, but is very easy work. This causes the tree and its branches and limbs to become weak. All nutrients are pushed to the end of the branches as a result and this causes long thin branches and limbs to develop. Many also think that this will allow more sunlight to penetrate, but this is not the case because the outer canopy hasn’t been touched. The outer canopy is what stops the sunlight from coming through to the ground below.
As mentioned before, thinning is commonly requested because it is known to increase wind resistance and allow more sunlight to get to the grass. When performed properly it does increase the wind resistance of the tree and allow more sunlight to get to the grass. The proper way to perform a crown cleaning is to remove small diameter branches from the outer canopy of the tree allowing the sunlight and wind to penetrate holes in the canopy. When a customer ask us to get their trees ready for hurricane season, crown thinning and crown cleaning are what we recommend most.
Find out what type of trimming is right for your tree or trees
We deliver Tree Trimming in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties including the cities of Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, St. Petes (St. Petersburg), Tampa & more.
Tree Trimming Resources
O’Neils includes three ISA Certified Arborists and we can assist with Tree Trimming Permits to ensure your tree maintenance is not just correctly done, but in full compliance with state, county and city regulations. Here are some websites that provide tree pruning or tree trimming regulations and information:
- Hillsborough County: Grand Oak Trimming Regulations https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/businesses/permits-and-records/permits/grand-oak-regulations
- Hillsborough County: Request Tree Trimming https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/property-owners-and-renters/roads-and-sidewalks/action-folder/request-median-maintenance-and-tree-trimming
- Pasco County: Tree Maintenance https://www.pascocountyfl.net/2447/Tree-Maintenance
- Pinellas County: Mangrove Tree Trimming Regulations http://www.pinellascounty.org/environment/watershed/mangroves.htm