Fall can be the perfect time for tree trimming. In fact, some species actually benefit from fall pruning, though it’s important to save the others till spring. Fall is also a good time for cutting down trees and branches that have become diseased or dangerous. You can then use a log splitter to split the larger logs you will chop and stack to age for next winter. Be sure to read your owner’s manual before operating your machine and take proper log splitter safety precautions. Learn more about the benefits of fall pruning, safety tips, and cutting tips for trimming trees this fall.
Benefits of fall pruning
Fall pruning is often beneficial to the health of the tree, but it can also make tree trimming easier for you. In late fall you can clearly see the structure of the tree, making it easy to pinpoint dead branches, branches growing inward, or ones that are close to rubbing against others causing dead spots. Tree trimming is done to improve the strength and form of your tree, but also to make it safe for your home and yard. Cutting back every so often allows for new growth to thrive and allows you to direct growth away from your home or power lines.
Fall pruning should be done carefully, as certain plants can be damaged if they are pruned late in fall after buds have formed. However, species like oak trees actually benefit from fall pruning. If you trim oak trees in other seasons they attract beetles that are dormant in winter. These beetles can spread disease and kill the tree. Locust, apple, crab apple, mountain ash and hawthorn are other trees that will be less likely to contract disease when pruned in winter. Plus, since the tree is dormant, you are generally able to eliminate bleeding sap.
Tips for cutting back trees
When you’re trimming tree branches it’s important to focus on your safety first, but you should also consider the health of the tree. The main reason for fall pruning is to cut back any branches that would be easily damaged by wind, ice or snow. Branches with small angles and weak limbs are often the first to break and could fall on your home, car or other property. Any branches with a low angle at the trunk connection are weak spots. Other problem branches may be growing inward or down toward the ground. Cutting back these tree limbs not only eliminates immediate danger but strengthens the remaining limbs on the tree to avoid future problems. Check out these tips for cutting trees:
- Always prune above any buds, and cut in such a way as to force the new branch to grow toward the outside of the tree.
- To remove larger branches, make three or four cuts to avoid tearing the bark, first on the underside of the branch about half-way through, then cut above after identifying the branch collar.
- All pruning should be done just beyond the branch collar without leaving a stub.
- After using your chainsaw or other tool, don’t seal the wound on the tree, allow it to heal naturally.
Pruning tools like chainsaws, pole saws and loppers should be sharp. A dull blade could invite insects and infection to the tree. Make sure you also have the right tool for the job. Hand pruners can be used on small branches, but loppers should be used for branches 2-3 inches in diameter. Pruning saws, like pole saws, are great for branches six inches in diameter. Anything larger should be handled with a chainsaw.
Once you have the proper outdoor equipment and protective gear, you’re ready to start your fall pruning. If you are hiring a professional to do any of your work, be sure to ask around and get several quotes to get the best deal.