You may love and cherish your trees but sooner or later the time comes when you have to get the chainsaw out and get to work. Especially if there are branches overhanging the street, public side-walk, or blocking traffic signs, then in most cities there will be regulations as to how much clearance is required. It is important that you do not violate these regulations, they are put in place for a good reason – to avoid danger and to keep people safe. So at the very least some trimming is bound to be required at some stage of their lives.
Trimming a tree can usually be carried out with one or more of the proper tools that are meant for the job. A pair of hand shears is ideal for light cutting so long as the blades are good and sharp, however they won’t work on branches or stems that are larger than about one inch maximum in diameter, they just wouldn’t cope. Loppers are just like pruning shears with long handles and they will easily deal with these larger branches, but again, they must be sharp. A pruning saw could be used to cut very large branches but this is where a chainsaw comes into its own. A powerful, well maintained chainsaw will take the heavy work and time out of the job and make your life so much easier.
Some people baulk at the idea of using one of these machines but so long as you take some simple safety precautions and use common sense then there is no need to be frightened of them. There are also some pole mounted tools available that will enable you to reach higher levels and make the task of tree trimming easier. Of course it goes without saying that the applicable safety equipment and clothing should be utilised no matter the job you are doing or the particular tool you are using.
If it can be avoided it’s best not to completely top a tree. Topping can be a very harmful practice and should not be done unless completely necessary; for example if it is needed from a safety point of view. It puts a lot of stress on the tree and it can actually be more dangerous than leaving it to grow to its natural height. So topping a tree because you fear that it will fall can be counterproductive. Trees that are severely topped will lose between 50-100% of their leaves and this in turn can put it into temporary starvation mode. When this happens the tree will start to produce shoots around the cuts, which in some species can grow up to 20 feet in one year, in an attempt to produce new leaves as quickly as possible. It should also be remembered that if a tree becomes stressed and weak it is more likely to become diseased and suffer from insect infestation which can eventually lead to the death of the tree. The wounds where the cuts were made are easy targets for disease and insects to enter the tree and trees that have been topped are prime candidates as they have been severely weakened.
So if your tree is beginning to look a bit dangerous then you may find it easier and safer to get that chainsaw out again and just take the whole thing down to ground level. That said, if there is no other alternative and you just have to top a tree, it’s worth considering hiring a professional to do it for you as they know the proper tree topping techniques. Topping a tree is much like surgery (albeit with a chainsaw) and I’m sure you wouldn’t want just anyone working on you on the operating table! These people can do the job with as little damage to the tree as possible and leave it with the best chance of surviving to grow another day. Sometimes it’s just better to get the professionals in.
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