How to trim a tree that is too tall

How to Trim a Tree that is Too Tall

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Posted on by Sexy Trees Web Team

How do you trim a tree that is too tall? If you’ve ever had a tree in your yard that was just a bit too tall for the space it was planted in, then you are familiar with the dilemma of what to do about it. Do you trim it yourself and hope for the best? Or do you call in a professional? In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on how to trim a tree that is too tall, so that your trees can stay healthy and happy while your landscape stays beautiful.

Table of Contents

Avoid Topping Trees

Topping, otherwise known as the process of cutting off the top of a tree, is frowned upon because it is massively detrimental to tree health and destroys the tree’s natural shape. Topping a tree causes a gaping wound that makes the tree susceptible to rot, pests, and diseases. Not only does topping create an unsightly tree, but it forces the tree to create new, often weak branches that are more likely to break off.

Topping a tree should always be avoided. There are much better ways to prune and trim a tree!

How to Trim a Tree that is Too Tall

Pruning is more appropriate than topping for reducing the height of a tree, but it’s still not an easy task and should be done very carefully.

When pruning a tall tree to reduce its size, pruning cuts should be made just above lateral branches that are at least one-third the diameter of the branch being removed. Make the cuts at a 45-degree angle, sloping away from the center of the tree. This will help direct growth outward and prevent any weak angles from forming.

It’s important to note that pruning for height reduction is an uphill battle – you may not be able to get your tree to stop growing upward altogether, but you can help to slow it down. With careful pruning and a bit of luck, you can maintain the health and beauty of your trees while keeping them at a more manageable height.

Best Pruning Practices for Tree Health

If you’re going to try pruning your trees yourself, it’s important to know some basic tree pruning guidelines. When pruning a tree:

  • Do not make flush cuts (cuts that remove the branch collar, or shoulder, of the branch as it connects to the tree). If you cut into a branch collar, you’ve cut into the tree’s trunk. This is an invitation for bacteria to enter and see how much damage they can do to the trunk before the wounds close.
  • Do not remove more than 25% of the live crown in one pruning session. Removing too much of a tree’s canopy at once can negatively affect its health and growth.
  • Choose the right time to prune. Don’t prune in the middle of summer, when trees are actively growing and photosynthesizing. Spring or winter are better times to prune, when trees are dormant.

At Sexy Trees, our wide range of services and care will keep your trees healthy and beautiful for decades to come. We believe in supporting our communities of trees through evidence-based techniques that you can depend on. 

Give us a call at 925-233-6877 for an estimate, or email us at [email protected] anytime with questions!

Categoriesblog, Tree Care, Tree Pruning, Tree ServiceTagspruning trees, Tree Care, walnut creek tree care

How to Trim Large Trees and When To Hire a Pro

Trees can add great beauty, curb appeal and value to a home, but when their branches grow so long that they begin to scrape against the house or become a falling hazard during a storm, many homeowners want to know how to trim their large trees. There are many benefits of pruning a mature tree, including removing dead or diseased branches, increasing light and airflow to the tree’s inner canopy and reducing the risk of a branch falling and potentially causing harm. Trimming large trees involves working with specialized tools and demanding physical labor, which is why many homeowners have their trees professionally trimmed regularly. If you want to know the steps involved or think you might be up for the job, you’ll want to do your homework.

Here are the basics of how to trim large trees:

  • Once you’ve identified a limb that needs to be cut, you would need to make your first of three cuts—a small notch on the underside of the branch, about two to three feet out from the trunk. This is called the notch cut, and it should extend only about a quarter of the way through the branch’s thickness.
  • Next, you’d want to cut off the branch just past the notch cut (meaning, between the notch cut and the tip of the branch, not between the notch and the trunk). This is called the relief cut, and its purpose is to remove the bulk of the branch’s weight so the tree won’t split when you make your final and most important cut.
  • Finally, the final cut is made by identifying the branch collar—the collar-like bump that forms where a tree branch grows out from the trunk. Many people think they should cut off branches flush to the trunk, but this is not the case. Instead, you want to make your final cut at the point where the collar narrows into the branch itself. Make sure to make a cut that is flush to the natural angle of the collar; if that’s not possible, cut from the bottom up instead of the side or top.

Trimming any tree, and especially a mature one, should always be done with great planning, care and consideration to avoid harming the tree, yourself, someone else or your property in the process. Many people believe tree trimming to be relatively simple, but it’s actually somewhat complex. It’s important to know the aspects of proper tree trimming to ensure that you prune the right limbs, at the right points, in the right manner and during the right season, in order to avoid damaging the tree.

Do-it-yourself tree trimmers also need to know how to exercise proper care to make sure they don’t wind up injuring themselves during the pruning process. Many people don’t realize how dangerous it can be to reach up into a tree’s branches with a long-handled saw until they’re in the middle of pruning and find themselves at risk of cutting themselves with their saw or cutting a branch in such a way that it hits them as it falls to the ground. At this point, you may be starting to see why professional arborists go through extensive training and certification processes to master their trade!

If your tree trimming job is truly a simple one—for example, all you need is to remove a small, dead branch that is located low on the tree—it could be a straightforward enough job to tackle on your own. Before doing so, however, make sure you have the right tools, including a decent tree pruner (which can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store), along with good gloves and safety goggles to protect your eyes and hands. Also, be sure to have a working knowledge of safe ways to cut a tree branch without causing damage to the tree.

It’s important to be extremely mindful of safety—that of yourself, other people, any pets and your property—throughout the pruning process. When making the relief cut, for example, make absolutely sure beforehand that when the branch falls, it won’t hit anything or anyone. Additionally, don’t try to trim limbs you can’t reach from the ground; instead, contact a tree care specialist to handle the higher branches in need of pruning.

Trimming large trees can be done at any time of year if there is a limb that is an obvious fall hazard, but optimally, tree trimming should be done sometime between late fall and early spring. Cutting back limbs before late spring and summer arrive will help the tree bounce back from the cuts as quickly and completely as possible. It’s a good rule of thumb to make it an annual practice to inspect your trees during the early spring, remove any dead limbs and cut branches back from your home, garage and other structures to create several feet of clearance.

Many homeowners wind up hiring an arborist rather than risking their own safety along with their trees’ wellbeing by trying to trim branches themselves. It’s important to make sure to hire a certified tree care specialist, and, if you have oak trees, preferably one who is Oak Wilt Qualified. Someone with this level of knowledge and training can easily handle your tree trimming needs along with all other aspects of tree maintenance. This includes identifying trees that may be struggling due to pests like termites or borers, or diseases such as oak wilt or hypoxylon canker.

There are some differences in how to prune certain types of trees, oaks included. Keep reading to learn more about how to prune your oak trees to keep them healthy.

Helpful Tips for Oak Tree Pruning

There are several types of oak trees that are common throughout the U.S., including live oaks, red oaks and Mexican oaks. If you have oak trees in your landscape and want to make sure they are staying healthy, it’s important to educate yourself about oak wilt. Red oaks are the most susceptible to this serious fungal disease, while white oaks are the least susceptible. Live oaks are somewhere in the middle and Mexican oaks are relatively resistant to wilt. If you have an oak tree that you suspect might be suffering from oak wilt, it is extremely important not to trim its branches without consulting a qualified professional. Cutting branches from a tree with oak wilt at the wrong time of year, or without taking proper precautions, can put you at a higher risk of spreading the disease to nearby healthy trees.

Signs of oak wilt include:

  • A reddish tint to the leaves’ vascular tissue
  • Black or gray fungal mats on the trunk of the tree
  • Wilted or curled leaves
  • Dead crowns

Keep in mind that it can be difficult to determine whether your tree has oak wilt or some other condition. If you have any hesitation, contact an Oak Wilt Qualified professional for an evaluation.

It is also important to consider the timing of pruning your oaks. Again, this relates to the risk of oak wilt and other diseases. Rather than pruning oaks in the early spring, which is recommended for many other types of trees, it may be better to prune oak trees in the winter, when they are fully dormant. This will reduce the risk of diseases entering through the open wounds left after trimming. Similarly, it is also wise to clean your pruning tools after each cut with a mixture of water and bleach, to disinfect the cutting surfaces and reduce risk of spreading disease. Lastly, always apply a dressing to fresh wounds after pruning to ensure that your oak tree is protected from diseases and pests.

Note that improper pruning techniques can further weaken oak trees and make them more susceptible to grave diseases. This is yet another reason that people with oak trees should be fully educated about best practices for pruning oaks, or they should hire a knowledgeable and experienced arborist who can trim oaks correctly.

One method of pruning that many homeowners have heard of and inquire about is tree topping.

Tree Topping: Harmful or Beneficial?

Tree topping—also called dehorning, heading, stubbing or crowning—is a pruning practice, usually performed in early spring, that is simultaneously popular and controversial among home gardeners. Popular especially for certain types of ornamental and flowering trees, such as crepe myrtles, tree topping is the practice of cutting off trees’ main trunks and smaller branches at a uniform height. Among tree topping proponents, the practice is intended to serve two main purposes: to keep the trees from growing too tall and to encourage showier blooms.

There are several reasons why many knowledgeable landscapers and home gardeners alike warn against tree topping, starting with the fact that the practice weakens trees’ natural strength and instead encourages the growth of numerous, thinner stems from the newly cut branches. Furthermore, tree topping doesn’t stimulate trees to produce more blooms; in fact, it causes them to produce fewer yet larger blooms, which can be too heavy for the new, thin branches to support.

Another reason to avoid tree topping is the fact that cutting off the tops of trees removes many of their leaves, which are trees’ main source of food. Leaves contain chlorophyll, which interacts with sunlight in a process called photosynthesis to produce food for the whole tree. When a tree’s leaves appear sparse or discolored, some people might think topping the tree will encourage fresh growth, but a far better way to address the problem is to have a certified arborist inspect the tree for disease and recommend steps to help the tree thrive.

Professional arborists can also help with keeping trees trimmed appropriately. Trees should never be topped in order to keep them from growing “too tall” for the space where they were planted. Instead, both taller trees and smaller trees or shrubs should be planted in appropriate spots in your yard that can accommodate their natural height and the spread of their branches over time.

Of course, it’s common for homeowners to have trees that need to be trimmed away from the house or other structures on their property. Fortunately, there are many good ways to prune trees appropriately without drastically topping and potentially damaging them permanently. Additionally, by hiring certified arborists, you won’t need to worry about how to save a dying tree due to improper trimming techniques. These specialists can assist with all aspects of tree care, including pruning and trimming branches and dead limbs, diagnosing tree diseases and recommending types of trees that will thrive in your particular yard or garden space. Having a professional prune your trees as well as help maintain your lawn and plants can ensure your landscape is getting the attention and specialized care it needs to thrive.

ABC Can Keep Your Trees Healthy and Beautiful

It can be difficult to find the time, tools and expertise to keep your trees healthy—even more so if your trees are large. At ABC Home & Commercial Services, we have a team of certified arborists who are here to provide any tree service you may need and specialists that can provide you with a variety of lawn services. We have a deep knowledge of when and how to trim trees so they will be healthy for many years to come.

How to cut down a tall tree on the site: rules for removing large trees

Tree removal services: felling, felling and pruning

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Tall trees in our area are not a unique phenomenon: under favorable conditions, many species of central Russia grow to heights of 30, 40 or more meters. Increased attention to them is associated with the danger that they can pose to people and buildings in the event of their fall. Especially if the tree is emergency.

Why do they fall?

The first , which is also the main cause of the fall of trees, including tall ones, is a poor, weakened condition associated with diseases and any other damage to the trunk or root system. A healthy plant is able to withstand serious loads like heavy winds, for example.

The second reason is a large windage. Large and tall trees grow in conditions of fierce competition with each other for a place under the Sun. They quickly stretch upwards, and therefore their trunks are usually straight, without branches in the lower and middle parts. The crown, on the other hand, is formed closer to the top and becomes the very “sail” that “catches” the wind, provoking the fall of the trunk.

Accurate cutting of large trees requires a lot of time and patience.

April 2014
Photo: Kaleria Lapshina

Scotch pine, widely distributed from China to the British Isles, is a good example of great windage. On the territory of the European part of Russia, it can be found everywhere. How can one not recall the paintings of I. I. Shishkin, especially his famous “Ship Grove”, which depicts tall, slender mast pines, with cone-shaped crowns crowning the very tops!

Another reason for the fall can be the root system. Norway spruce, typical of the northern regions of Europe, has a superficial root system that does not securely hold the plant in the ground. Along with a trunk height of several tens of meters, this leads to poor wind resistance.

They decided to cut down the tall pine tree near the glass fence, just in case.

April 2014
Photo: Kaleria Lapshina

What tree is considered tall?

Most of the territory of the Russian Federation is forests: coniferous, deciduous, mixed. They are formed by plants of different species. According to the existing classification, all woody plants in our country, including central Russia, are divided into 9 groups according to height. The first 4 groups are a variety of shrubs: low, high - from 1 to 5 meters.

Here, for example, include: lilac, sea buckthorn, viburnum, mountain ash and other similar plants known to all of us. Following them (in ascending order) are some types of maple, pine, apple, birch, acacia - these are already trees, but they are considered low and medium in height - from 6 to 20 meters. The remaining three groups are high and very high.

Thus, are considered high if they outgrow the mark of 20 meters . In the Central European part these include:

  • some types of poplars (pyramidal, white, black),
  • Norway spruce,
  • Norway and Ash maples,
  • aspen,
  • English oak,
  • common ash,
  • gray alder,
  • warty birch,
  • silver and heart-leaved lindens (small-leaved),
  • Scotch pine and some others.

For different breeds, height is a relative concept. For example, an apple tree that does not reach the mark of 20 m can be considered high, but only among apple trees. In this article, we are interested in really tall trees, since the difficulties that arise when working with them are associated precisely with the large absolute height of the trunk.

In the city, it is convenient and practical to cut plants from an aerial platform.

March 2014
Photo: Kaleria Lapshina

Where and in what cases does it need to be removed?

In itself, such a tree is not a problem. But if it is emergency, it can cause great damage when it falls. A fallen tree easily tears the wires and knocks down the poles on which they are stretched, rams the roofs and destroys the walls of buildings, breaks vehicles and blocks the roadway. Not to mention the threat to human health and life! Therefore, in the city, such plants must be removed if they grow:

  • near overhead power lines,
  • next to residential buildings,
  • playgrounds,
  • car parks, etc.

Large and dry trees can often be seen in summer cottages. Sometimes they hang over the house, risking falling at the slightest breath of wind. In addition, dry trees are fire hazardous. Standing tall plants, not necessarily dry, can also pose a threat.

How to cut down a tall tree?

If it is necessary to cut down a tall tree, the trunk of which is strong enough to support an adult person - in our case, an arborist equipped with a chainsaw and other necessary equipment - the method of felling the tree in parts is used. The specialist climbs the trunk, first removes all the branches and the top, and then cuts the trunk into separate logs, which he either throws down or gently lowers on a rope. Depending on customer requirements.

The pine tree in Obninsk turned out to be too tall for machinery. I had to call an arborist.

September 2013
Photo: Kaleria Lapshina

It is difficult to work in holiday villages, where the territory of household plots is limited, as a rule, to six acres. Because only six acres can be located, in addition to a residential building, “a million more necessary and valuable” things. This includes flowerbeds, garden beds, and lawns with gazebos...

Therefore, the problem arises - how to cut down a tall tree on the site without damaging the owner's property, evenly distributed over the entire area? Under these conditions, all parts of a large tree: branches, fragments of the trunk - carefully descend after being removed on a rope. They are picked up below, thereby keeping the site safe and sound.

Thin tall trees

These cases need to be told separately. The work of removing them is often complicated by the inability of the arborist to climb them: the trunk can bend or, in general, break under the weight of a person. Therefore, an aerial platform is often used to fell such plants. If it is not possible to use it: the terrain does not allow, there are no entrances to the object, the neighboring growth is used. An additional rope is hung on them - a safety rope. In addition to all this, thin trees are sometimes felled entirely, under the root.

The thicker the tree trunk, the longer it takes to saw it.

September 2013
Photo: Kaleriya Lapshina

Difficulties and dangers

The dangers of removing tall trees are primarily related to their height. Falling from them can result in serious injury or death. Therefore, when working with large trees, the specialist first assesses their condition: healthy or emergency.

The threat (accident) is often hidden from view. The tree may be sick, but the disease is seemingly asymptomatic, as it happens in humans. Only a specialist is able to accurately determine the condition of the plant and take into account all the risks. The life and health of a tree climber depends on the correct diagnosis.

Such a tree is also dangerous because the wind load on it is greater than on low ones. Even in good calm weather, the wind blows at high altitude. It swings the top like a pendulum, complicating the feller's work.

When cutting down a tall tree, all the actions of an arborist, even the simplest ones, are multiplied by the height - this is the main danger when working on such objects!

How do we do it?

Nuances of tree removal in the Moscow region

Remember - the work of an arborist is very dangerous, it requires skills, knowledge and experience.

We specialize in tree removal. We take on any orders: we can solve the problem if the branches are located directly above the house and need to be carefully cut, we can safely cut rotten trunks, remove trees that have fallen on buildings.

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Thoughts are material!

Naturally, it all started with agreements and preliminary planning.

During the day, three teams at four sites cut down thirteen trees and cut dry branches from several pines!

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Trade terms

Broken top of a tree

Can lead to sad consequences. When falling, be sure to hit the most valuable item in your area.

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An arborist is a professional who has the technical skills, gained through experience and appropriate training, including climbing, to oversee the treatment of trees and other woody plants in residential, commercial, and public landscapes.

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  • cleaning gutters from needles,
  • antenna removal
  • Related services:

    • logging residue removal.

    How to prune a tree so as not to harm it - 5 important rules

    Pruning trees is a procedure that requires certain knowledge, because it is so easy to harm the plant. But if you follow the basic rules of pruning, problems can be avoided.

    What is pruning for? Firstly, crown care affects the yield of the plant, and secondly, the tree looks neat and aesthetically pleasing. Thirdly, this procedure helps to get rid of diseased and damaged branches. In addition, only in this way can a crown be formed.

    Pruning is important to do correctly, otherwise there is a high risk of damaging the tree. To prevent this from happening, always remember the 5 key rules to follow when pruning.

    Rule 1. Choosing the right time for pruning

    The best time to prune trees is in early spring or late autumn. During these periods, plants are subjected to the least stress. The risk of pests and fungal infections is also minimal.

    The best time to prune is when the tree has completely shed its leaves. This means that the plant's growing season has ended and it "fell asleep".

    If the branches are damaged? They should be cut off immediately, without waiting for a favorable time.

    Have your pruning tools ready in the off-season so that you can perform the necessary procedures in time

    Rule 2.

    Before cutting a branch, make a cut

    When preparing to cut a branch, first make a cut on its underside. This is necessary so that it does not break too close to the trunk, if it suddenly cracks under the weight of its own weight.

    The cut must be made in such a way that it does not affect the so-called rings - the bark at the base of the branches or in the places where they grow together.

    Make a cut on the underside of the branch before cutting it off

    Rule 3: Cut the branch some distance from the trunk

    Stepping back slightly from the first cut, made a few centimeters from the trunk, cut the branch completely. Removed material can be destroyed. A knot will remain in place of the former branch.

    If the branches of the tree are thick enough, a saw may be needed

    Rule 4: Cut the knot wisely

    If it is necessary to shorten a branch, the cut can be made almost at the edge of the branch. This will allow the tree to recover and recover faster. As in the case of a whole branch, you need to cut or file a knot from the bottom side to the top.

    It is very important not to hit the ring when cutting the branch

    Rule 5. Remember to take care of the tool

    Wash and disinfect pruners and loppers after cutting each affected area: diseases are very easily transmitted through a dirty or contaminated tool. Disinfection should be carried out after the complete pruning of each tree.

    Take good care of your tools

    Tree pruning supplies

    • hand pruner,
    • Lopper,
    • hand saw,
    • rod saw (for upper branches),
    • ladder.

    Tips and Tricks