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Do My Own Lawn Care - Pruning Trees

By DoMyOwn staff

In this episode of our DIY lawn care series, Paul learns how to prune his own trees and shrubs to promote healthy and safe growing conditions for his damaged lawn.

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Video Transcript

Just another reason to prune this tree. I mean do you know how big of a pain in the neck it is to get underneath these branches to mow my weeds. It's a very big pain. Not only is it a pain in the neck, but as I already pointed out on this side of the driveway it's a lot of moss weeds and a bunch of bare dirt.

On my neighbor's side of these trees is a great example, you see the limbs have grown so much that they've shaded this area and over here, dead; nothing can grow, just the bare dirt and moss. The idea is to prune them down, so that I can allow airflow and sunlight to get in here to have a chance for grass to grow back in this area or on this side of the driveway.

So why prune trees in the first place? Let's talk about that. First of all, it's for the overall health of the tree. You want to remove dead dying or damaged branches, so that insects and organisms don't creep in and well kill the entire tree. Also, thinning out a dense canopy like oh my Bradford Pears will increase air and sunlight and that will reduce the risk of disease setting in.

Next, how about safety? In Georgia, we get ice storms in the winter. What happens then, well the branches get really heavy and weighed down with ice and they snap off the tree, either damaging or killing the tree or worse, the whole tree gets toppled over. Not only that, if we get a bad thunderstorm rolling through or huge gusts of wind, these branches, if they get too heavy, again and they can snap off or make the whole tree topple over.

None of that is good, so correct pruning procedures will help maintain the overall health and structure and safety of the tree. Another reason is to keep a desired shape, my Magnolia back here has got a nice bell shape to it and I'd like to keep that. So if any of the branches get out of control or overgrown, I'll just prune them off so I can keep that nice bell shape that I've fallen in love with.

Pruning can also stimulate growth; take my Crape Myrtles back here. I know I know, some of you are still upset about the Crape murder in the back, I'm sorry. When all the leaves fall off in the winter, I'll trim all that off, prune it back, so that when spring comes around they'll grow back fuller, more beautiful, and bigger.

The proper way to prune a tree or cut off a branch is to find the right place to cut it. So where is that? This limb gives us a great example; you want to find what's called the branch bark ridge. Right here if you'll look, this dark area is the branch bark ridge, so that means the branch collar, if we come to the point of this branch bark ridge and follow it directly down. That is our branch collar.

So we want to cut, make our final cut right about there, the reason we're going to cut there is because the chemicals that heal the tree or form the callus like right here, are located right there. So that's why we want to make our cuts there. Okay we figured out where we're going to make our cuts, now how do we actually make the cuts? Now if you're like me, you'll want to take a chainsaw or whatever and just cut it right there. That's bad don't do that, and the reason is, if you cut straight down like that the weight of the branch might pull it away from the tree, cracking down the side of the tree and causing more damage than you actually want.

Now for my trees, because these branches are heavier, I'm going to make three separate cuts. The first cut, I'm going to go about an inch up the branch collar and I'm going to cut on the bottom side of the tree. The reason I'm going to cut on the bottom side of the tree, if you cut on the top and you just go straight down, you risk the limb breaking off and ripping down the tree trunk, which could damage and the rest of the tree.

So I'm going to go about an inch or two up this way, make my first cut a little ways into the branch, then I'm going to go just above that and make my second cut into the branch. And then my final cut, I'm going to come to the branch bark ridge and make kind of a perpendicular cut right there, and that should allow for a very nice clean cut of this branch to come off the tree and allow it to heal itself.

So what are the different tools you're going to prune with? Hand pruners are going to be used on plants or small shrubs or bushes that have stems or branches, that are about a half inch to three quarters of an inch thick. Then you get your trusty hand Shears, this are mainly going to be used on your decorative shrubs, like your Holly bushes and things of that nature.

Next up, you got your Loppers, like these. These are made to cut wood that's about three quarters to one and a half inches in diameter. So these would be perfect for my Crape Myrtles on my front yard or you can use a pruning saw like this one. Pruning saws are going to be used for branches that are up to about three inches in diameter. You can also buy a pruning saw that's on an extended poll with a rope on it, so you can get those really high branches.

Some things I don't recommend using, something like this it's a dry wall knife. Don't try to use it, or this. I mean why would you want to try and use an axe to cut down limbs, cutting down a whole tree you can understand, but limbs really, I'm not fully sure how you would use a pick axe to prune, but don't try it, that's just seems really foolish. But you guys know my preferred tool.

Much much better, not perfect but better. Right here is an example of a bad cut. I admit I kind of lost track and got out of control but I cut from the top on this one; I didn't make my three cuts like I was supposed to and look what happened. The cut was supposed to be a nice clean cut right down, right through here. But instead for me cutting from top, the weight of the limb just split down the tree, luckily it stopped right here and didn't damage the rest of the tree or you know hit the limb blow it and cause a whole bunch of damage. So this is not the way you want to cut this will be the result, try to avoid this at all costs.

There's no one size fits all, when it comes to pruning trees. Your situation might be different from mine, for me I wanted to open up my yard some more, air and sunlight could get in, so that my grass can have a better chance of growing, your situation might be different. If you need help figuring that out, reach out to our customer service staff, shoot them an email, give them a phone call, or hit them up on Twitter. I think some of them have that, or even snap chat.

Reach out to then send them some pictures so they can figure out the best procedure or attack plan for your needs. If you need more help, click on the link in the description below or hit that eye icon on the upper right hand corner of this video that will take you over to our website where we have more helpful hints and tips. As always if you like this video hit the thumbs up, feel free to share this video and also feel free to leave us some comments and questions below. Make sure to subscribe to our channel and continue to follow along with me as I go through the rehab process of growing my own lawn. Thanks for watching!