Tree Care Tips Don't "Top" Trees
Never cut main branches back to stubs. Many people mistakenly "top" trees because they grow into utility wires, interfere with views or sunlight, or simply grow so large that they worry the landowner. Unfortunately, the topping process is often self-defeating. Ugly, bushy, weakly attached limbs usually grow back higher than the original branches.
Proper pruning can remove excessive growth without the problems topping creates. In addition, many arborists say that topping is the worst thing you can do for the health of a tree. It starves the tree by drastically reducing its food-making ability and makes the tree more susceptible to insects and disease.
Use the 1/3 Rules for Pruning
Never remove more than 1/3 of a tree's crown.
Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are 1/3 off vertical (10 or 2 positions).
For most species, the tree should have a single trunk.
Ideally, main side branches should be at least 1/3 smaller than the diameter of the trunk.
If removal of main branches are necessary, cut them back to the trunk to avoid leaving stubs.
For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don't prune up from the bottom any more than 1/3 of the tree's total height.
How to Make a Pruning Cut Large Limbs
Make a partial cut from beneath.
Make a 2nd cut from above several inches out and allow the limb to fall.
Complete the job with a final cut just outside the branch collar.
Make a sharp clean cut, just beyond a lateral bud or other branch.
The Value of Mulch
A tree's best friend, mulch insulates soil, retains moisture, keeps out weeds, prevents soil compaction, reduces lawnmower damage, and adds an aesthetic touch to a yard or street. Remove any grass within the mulch area, and area from 3 to 10 feet in diameter, depending on the tree size. Pour wood chips or bark pieces 2 to 4 inches within the circle, but not touching the trunk.
Where Roots Really Grow
We don't always appreciate how far roots can extend. Understanding how and where roots grow will help you avoid damage from trenching and construction.
Because roots need oxygen, they don't normally grow in the compacted oxygen-poor soil under paved streets.
The framework of major roots usually lies less than 8 to 12 inches below the surface.
Roots often grow outward to a diameter 1 to 2 times the height of the trees.
Girdling Kills Trees
Girdling is any activity that injures the bark of a tree trunk and extends around much of the trunk's circumference. Such injuries, often caused by lawnmowers and weed trimmers, destroy the tree's most vital membranes, the layers that conduct water and minerals from the roots to the leaves and return the food produced by the leaves to the rest of the tree.