Trees benefit us in many ways, but they can cause some serious damage if not taken care of properly. Properly pruning trees is an important part of ensuring your trees are both beautiful and safe. Pruning is the selective removal of plant parts to meet specific goals and objectives. The main goal of preventive pruning is to reduce the length of branches competing with the main trunk. Proper structural pruning should be performed on most tree species that become large at maturity to promote longevity, decrease future maintenance costs, and reduce conditions that could place people or property at risk.

5 Reasons to Have Your Trees Properly Trimmed by a Professional:

1. Make trees stronger and safer.

-This is the most important reason for trimming trees. Proper pruning greatly reduces the risk of tree failure. Tree failure occurs when a tree or large part of a tree breaks and falls, sometimes causing personal injury and extensive property damage.  Poor pruning practices, such as topping or removing large branches, make trees more susceptible to wind failure.  Poor pruning cuts can become an entry point for fungi that begin the decay process.  Decay is a major cause of tree failure and is often present without obvious signs.

2. Shape and control the size.

-Proper pruning cuts can be used to manage tree size and develop or maintain a desired shape. Lifting trees is a common pruning practice where the lower branches of the tree are removed to provide clearance for cars, structures, or to improve the view. Excessive lifting creates a condition where trees become top-heavy which puts the tree at risk for failure and can result in personal injury as well as considerable damage to your home and surrounding property.

3. Improve the health and vigor of your trees.

-Weak or dying branches and branches infested with disease organisms or insects should be removed to decrease the risk of tree failure and improve the overall health and appearance of the tree. No more than 15% of the foliage should be removed at one time and no more than 30% of foliage should be removed in one season.

hatrack Hat-racking is defined as removing more than a fourth of a tree’s canopy at a time. This is an awful pruning practice that leaves the tree horribly disfigured and more dangerous than prior to pruning. Some companies will tell the homeowner that hat-racking makes the tree more “hurricane proof” or will need less maintenance in the long run, both of the which are lies and the results will be completely the opposite. A hat-racked tree has to exert an enormous amount of energy to produce new foliage, and if it does manage to survive this kind of trimming, the regrowth is usually very weakly attached to the tree and will break easily in a storm. Hat-racking is illegal in Broward County and the company/ homeowner that performs this type of procedure will be fined and required to remove and replace the tree. 

4. Improve light penetration and wind resistance

-Thinning cuts allow wind to pass through the canopy and decreases the “sail effect”, thereby making the tree more tolerant to severe weather, especially tropical storms and hurricanes. Never “top” a tree. This is a  very poor pruning practice which makes a tree hazardous , not safer, by causing it to become top heavy due to thick regrowth, ultimately increasing the chance that the tree will be blown over in a wind storm. If a company recommends doing this, seek out another company immediately.

5. Remedy a potential hazard situation

- Hazard Tree Management deals in probabilities of failure rather than certainties. Age, species (especially rooting and branching characteristics), site, and condition all influence the relative hazard of the tree. A high probability of failure does not necessarily make a tree a hazard; there must be a target. Trees become a potential hazard when there is a target. A target is a structure, vehicle or a person that would be struck by a falling tree or its parts. The target directly influences the degree of hazard. Consider the differences among a tree falling on a fence, a house or a person. A tree leaning over the bedroom is most hazardous. Trees near high-use areas are more of a risk than those near infrequently visited areas, as the probability of a person being hit is greater. Priorities for removal or corrective treatments depend on the hazard rating of the tree.  A hazard evaluation should be done on a regular basis; ideally every 1 to 2 years.

IMAG1819Buyer beware: Not all companies have properly trained tree trimming specialists or adequate insurance. When an unqualified / uneducated tree trimmer makes improper cuts, it will result in a butchered looking tree that runs a high risk of tree failure. Tree failure can cause personal injury and extensive property damage which will end up costing you a lot more in the long run. Always make sure the company you hire is licensed and insured for your protection.

Additional Resources & Information on Poor Pruning Practices and County Tree Trimming Regulations:




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