Don’t let just anybody cut on your trees

Would you hire a drywaller to do your electrical? Probably not.


Yet, many people don’t think twice about having the ‘mow,blow and go’ guy, or a handyman who happens to have a chain saw work on their trees. But, let’s think about this for a minute. Trees are more than just really big plants. They are large, long-lived important features of our properties and of our urban landscapes. They can grace our homes in health and beauty for decades or they can become a hazard and a liability. Some of this is out of human hands but much of what impacts trees in an urban landscape is influenced strongly by humans.

Trees are not like lawns and hedges. They don’t need regular pruning ‘just because’. Trees rarely are improved health-wise due to pruning, in fact, it can be quite the reverse if trees are pruned hard.

The best thing we can do for trees mostly, is leave them alone. However, there is inevitably conflict between what trees want to do, and what we want them to do, especially if they are growing near our houses.

For example, too many trees crowded around a house may impede air flow and trap moisture or damage roofs or siding, or provide a pathway for squirrels to invade attics. It makes sense to have the trees cut back some. Real tree professionals – arborists – will take as little off the encroaching tree as possible while satisfying the needs of the homeowner. This usually means many smaller cuts will be made rather than just lopping off one or two huge limbs. Real arborists know that huge cuts especially at the trunk of the tree create wounds that take years to recover from and allow decay fungi to invade the trunk.

It also matters a great deal where limbs are cut. Leaving stubs or flush cutting a limb are respectively, uninformed and outdated tree pruning methods. Proper arborists cut right at a structure called the branch collar. The branch collar is a physical and chemical zone right where a limb attaches to the trunk or to a bigger limb that contains a ‘toolkit’ of resources that the tree uses to recover from a limb loss. Real arborists know where to cut.

This is just one example of why it matters who works on your trees. Trees, especially grand old trees can be irreparably damaged by poor pruning. Hire a real arborist.

How can you tell if someone will do a proper job on your trees? The fact that they have a truck and maybe a chipper is no guarantee of knowledge or skill.

Check out our list of things to look for when hiring a tree service to work on your trees:

How to hire a competent tree professional