This is a Hammer

Prune Trees Before Spring Buds Appear

Q: I’d like to trim back some of the branches on trees around my property before the growing season starts, but my wife argues that I should hire a tree service. What’s your take? – Jim in New Hampshire

A: Late winter is a good time to prune back non-flowering trees, once the coldest part of the season is past. It typically results in a burst of new growth once spring roars in.

However, if the tree is already showing buds, hold off on the project until after the leaves are fully open. Homeowners also can prune at the end of summer – it’s a good time to cut back branches that are hanging down too far under the weight of their leaves, for example.
In either case, safety is paramount when it comes to pruning trees. Not only is working from a height a consideration, but surrounding power lines and other hazards can present extreme danger.

If the branches involved are near the ground, not close to power lines or hanging over structures, and you have the proper tools to trim the branches along with a helper or three, then go ahead. A number of resources are available online.

If the trees are very tall, if the branches involved overhang structures or wires, or if the branches are too large to safely remove with the tools at hand, don’t do it yourself. Contact a tree service or arborist to come out and do an estimate of the time and cost involved in the project.

In either case, pruning trees will help keep them healthy and will keep your house and yard safer from falling debris. Trees will weather storms better and develop a more varied branch system. So it’s worth the effort and cost of taking care of them regularly, both on your own or with a professional tree service.

HOME TIP: Always get estimates from more than one tree-trimming service, and don’t allow work to begin until you’ve agreed to it in writing.

Send your questions or comments to ask@thisisahammer.com, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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