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Tree Pruning

Tree Pruning

Trimming / Pruning of your trees will not only keep the look of your trees aesthetically pleasing – it also helps ensure safety and health to your trees. Improper pruning and not being able to execute proper pruning techniques can and will cause harm to your trees. From weakening of branch structure to improper flush cuts that will eventually lead to cavities and interior rotting, hiring a tree service that lacks proper certifications, training, and experience can bring great risk to the overall health of your properties trees. With Sarasota Tree Service, Inc, you need not to worry as we have over 39 years’ experience in the business. Sarasota Tree Service, Inc. can promise that when it comes to tree pruning, we have the know-how and skills to execute a job that will not only look great – but will also ensure that your trees stay healthy.

Information to Know:
There are a number of factors that must be considered when deciding how a tree should be pruned. Size, maturity, species and location are all  determining factors in the process. Sarasota Tree Service, Inc, as an ISA certified company, are familiar with all techniques and methods. Some Techniques and methods are as follows:

Dead-woodingDead-wooding is the removal of dead, weak, and dying branches. Dead-wooding is important not only for the look of your trees and surrounding property but it also eliminates hazards. Falling branches can cause structural damage to your home and landscape. Dead-wooding also helps with air flow through-out your trees canopy which will decrease the chances of uprooting and storm damage.

Interior Pruning / Crown Thinning Includes dead-wooding, removal of diseased, crowded, weakly attached, low hanging branches and epicormic growth (Suckers, and shoots). Interior pruning / Crown thinning is a corrective and preventive method that ensures proper and controlled growth. Furthermore, interior pruning and thinning will keep your trees nice and healthy by increasing light penetration and air flow, which in turn will promote and maintain healthy interior foliage.


Be Careful:
Proper pruning methods should be preformed with the goal of making sure that your tree(s) maintains its natural beauty and shape while also ensuring that when the process is completed, your tree is structurally sound, safe, and healthy. Below are some improper pruning techniques that, you, as a customer may encounter when dealing with inexperienced and un-certified companies.


Lion Tailing

Lion-tailing is a common form of over-pruning. It is very important to maintain well spaced inner lateral branches when it comes to pruning your trees. Even distribution of foliage along any given branch is absolutely necessary and is very important. Lion-tailing is a common improper pruning method that not only takes away from a trees natural beauty, but also bring fourth the potential of hazard and health.

Lion-tailing occurs when a tree is essentially stripped of most or all of its interior branches and foliage while only leaving just a minimal amount of growth at the end of the branch.

Improper Pruning: Lion-Tailing. Tree NOT pruned by Sarasota Tree Service, Inc.

This not only looks unpleasing to the eye but brings fourth a number of problems such as:

  • Ÿ  End Heavy branches
  • Ÿ  Branch Failure / breakage
  • Ÿ  Sun Scalding 
  • Ÿ  Rapid sucker growth
  • Ÿ  Rotting / Cracks
  • Ÿ  Increased disease and insect vulnerability
  • Ÿ  Severe Stress


Rip Cuts /  Flush Cuts / Stub Cuts

When hiring a tree service, the average customer would assume that the company they have chosen is capable of making proper cuts. Unfortunately, many times this is just not the case. Tree work is an art. Designating which branches and leads that need to be removed is only part of the battle. Being able to execute each cut throughout a tree is  another. Rip and Flush cuts are unfortunately way to common in this business and only occur because of the following two reasons: laziness or ignorance.

proper collar cut





Improper Flush Cut. Cut NOT made by Sarasota Tree Service, Inc.







Flush Cut
When making a final cut; whether it’s a small limb or a very big lead, each cut should be made just above the branch collar in almost all cases. A flush Cut is the final cut that has been cut below the branch collar.  Flush cuts induce stress and force the tree to work harder to heal. Flush cuts also expose the inner layer (cambium layer) of the tree which in turn can produce rot, decay, and insect vulnerability. 


Stub Cuts

When pruning out a tree (ESPECIALLY HARDWOOD TREES), your final cut should be in the collar of where the branch was and the trunk is. A stub cut is essentially the opposite of a flush cut. Instead of cutting in to deep, the final cut has been done leaving to much of the branch. Pruning inside the collar allows a given tree to heal itself properly. Leaving to much can induce rot in the stub, could produce sucker growth, or both. Leaving a stub as a final cut is incorrect and is bad for your tree.


Hat-Racking (Topping) / Heading

Hat-racking (also known as topping) is a common pruning technique among unqualified companies where anywhere from 50% to 100% of the canopy has been removed. All that is left are stubs and branches. This is one of the worst things you can do to most trees and a major no-no for trees such as Oak Trees and other hardwoods.

DO NOT TOP YOUR TREES! Picture is NOT of work done by Sarasota Tree Service, Inc.

Your tree needs shade, especially in Florida. Topping your tree opens about sun-scalding to the bark, severe stress, and interior rot. Furthermore, It will shock the tree by taking away the tree’s energy-producing canopy causing massive regrowth of weakly attached  sucker growth (epicormic branches) at each cut. Also keep in mind that because the tree has been rid of it’s leaves and its canopy, the tree is extremely vulnerable to disease. This form of pruning will  not only ruin the natural beauty of your tree, but will more than likely kill it slowly as it declines. Topping is done because it is easy, takes very little skill, and it lets a customer know that there has been work done to the tree . A tree that has been pruned correctly will not look as though it has been heavily pruned at all.   

Heading is essentially the same as hat-racking / topping but on a smaller scale. This kind of pruning normally occurs when a tree needs some uplifting, a roof line needs to be cleared, or there is growth coming to close to a structure. Instead of raising the canopy or removing only the necessary branches to raise a lead (more time consuming), a cut is done in the middle of the branch leaving just a long stub. Paying customers are essentially told that new growth will appear on the branch but are not told that the new growth will be weakly attached and that the stub / new growth will more than likely fail at some point. It is actually better to remove the branch entirely than it is to leave a stub / headed lead.





Facts about Pruning:

  • Pruning cuts must be made with the understanding of how a tree will respond to the cut.
  • Improper pruning can cause damage which will continue during the life span of the tree.
  • since each cut has the potential to change the growth of a tree, no branch should be removed without reason.
  • Common reasons for pruning are:
    • Remove dead branches
    • Remove crowded or crossing limbs that may create future structural problems
    • Eliminate hazards
    • Slow growth by removing foliage
    • Reduce wind resistance
    • Increase light penetration
  • In most cases pruning / trimming is of a corrective or preventative nature.
  • When it comes to pruning trees, each cut should be made carefully, at the correct location, leaving a smooth surface with no jagged edges or torn bark.  Each cut should be made just above the branch collar.
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