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  • Writer's pictureBrian Smith

7 Tree Trimming Mistakes to Avoid in Overland Park

Are your tree branches starting to grow over your roof? Is your tree starting to look a bit wild? You may be tempted to grab a ladder and some tree trimmers and start chopping, but this can lead to dangerous situations for both yourself and your tree.


If you want your tree to live a long life, it's important that you trim it properly. 

Read on to learn seven of the top tree trimming mistakes that homeowners need to avoid in Overland Park! 

1. Timing

Not many homeowners know that you need to trim your tree at the right times of the year. The best time to trim your trees is when they're dormant during winter. Trimming during the fall may encourage new growth that will die when winter comes, meaning that your tree's energy will be wasted. 

Trimming during the summer is also not recommended because you'll be exposing more of the tree to the scorching rays of the sun. This can be severely detrimental if your tree is already weak or wounded, as the sun can scorch the bark and cause additional wounds. 

The warmer months are also when more bugs such as beetles are active. They're attracted to wounds on trees and can spread fatal diseases. 

2. Tree Trimming Tools

It's important that you use the right tools when it's time to trim your tree. You'll use shears, loppers, saws, or chainsaws. Depending on what you want to trim, use tools that match the size of branches and aren't too big or small. This will help you avoid butchering the branch and making it vulnerable to infection. 

Clean your tools with a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol before you use them to avoid spreading bacteria.

3. Excessive Trimming

Even if you have the right tools and trim your tree at the right time of year, it's important that you only trim what you need to trim. Trimming your tree excessively is depriving it of needed shade as well as nutrients. Focus only on trimming between five and 10% of the tree so that you don't slowly kill it.

You'll know you've trimmed or pruned too much when you can notice it on the tree. Proper trimming is subtle and shouldn't be immediately obvious.  

4. Proper Technique

You also want to focus on using the right technique when it comes to trimming your tree. Many homeowners mistakenly use a flush-cut, which is when you trim a bunch close to the tree trunk or the main branch that it's attached to. 

Although this looks cleaner, you're actually making the tree more susceptible to infection. Trees have something called a branch collar that's located near the base of all branches. By trimming this section away, you're taking away the tree's ability to form a seal over the cut you made.

It's important that you identify this enlarged section at the base of the branch and cut slightly beyond it. If you cut too far beyond, you'll encounter the same issue.

5. Lion Tailing

Lion tailing means that you're removing a fair amount of inner branches from your tree. This is something you want to avoid. Homeowners do this when they feel that their tree isn't allowing enough sunlight through for the lawn or other plants below. However, the interior branches of a tree help strengthen it as a whole. 

By gutting the tree of its interior, you're making it far weaker and more susceptible to breakage. Instead of trimming your tree to let light through, focus instead on planting plants that grow well in the shade or lay new sod out. 

6. Topping

Topping is another trimming technique that you need to avoid. Homeowners often do this as a quick fix when they feel as if their tree is getting too tall. However, when you trim off one branch at the top, three other leaders will be encouraged to grow in its place. 

This will make the tree weak at the top and also messy looking. Several smaller branches growing from the ends of larger ones will also require even more pruning over time. 

7. Avoiding Trimming

With all these guidelines and warnings, it may seem daunting to begin trimming your tree. It may seem as if trimming is too large of a risk. However, trimming and pruning is an integral part of your tree's health. Remember that by trimming your tree regularly, you're making it less susceptible to wind and fire damage. 

If you trim off dead, diseased, or damaged branches, you're also helping your tree stay healthy and strong. Pruned trees also look better compared to ones that have grown wild. This can increase your property value or buyer's first impressions of your home if you're looking to sell. 

Avoid Tree Trimming Mistakes for a Healthy Tree 

By avoiding these tree trimming mistakes, your tree will be healthier for longer. You'll also enjoy a safer outdoor environment with a strong tree that can withstand high winds. 

Make sure that you trim your tree only when it's dormant in the winter to avoid weakening it. Focus on only trimming what you need, and use the proper cuts on larger branches that allow them to form a seal over the new cuts afterward. 

It may seem daunting to trim your tree now that you're equipped with this new knowledge, but by regularly trimming your tree of dead and dying branches, you're helping its longterm growth. 

Are you in need of tree services in Kansas City or surrounding areas? Read more about our family-owned and operated full-service tree company today!  

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