Tree & Shrub Pruning: Why You Should Hire an Arborist

Pruning, the process of trimming a tree, shrub, or bush by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, is much more difficult than many homeowners initially imagine. Doing it effectively and safely requires an extensive amount of planning and consideration. Meagan MacLeod, OnGrowing Works’ horticulturist services project leader, suggests hiring a professional to take care of your tree and shrub pruning for the following reasons:

1. Maintain tree health

Every cut that’s made during the pruning process must be made cautiously to avoid inflicting damage on the tree. When a pruning cut is made, a wound is created in the tree or shrub which creates the possibility for insects and diseases to infect it. Without proper knowledge of how to avoid cutting into the “branch collar” (the tree’s mechanism to compartmentalize a wound/pruning cut), you run the risk of your trees and shrubs not being able to heal themselves which can have negative implications on their overall health. By hiring an arborist, you eliminate this risk and ensure that your plants remain as healthy as possible. 

2. Enable maximum growth

The tallest, straightest branch on a tree is always the main growth leader. If you cut this branch, you prevent the tree from growing to its natural height. While some trees may try to retrain a new leader in an attempt to compensate, the result is often a lateral branch that is trying, often unsuccessfully, to grow upwards. To preserve the tree’s health and its natural growth progression, make sure that you make an informed choice about the type of trees in your yard and the place that they are each planted in. Arborists have extensive knowledge of tree types and their ideal locations and can steer you in the right direction so you don’t have to cut the growth leader and can give your trees the space they need to grow to their natural height.

3. Protect yourself and your trees

Arborists have one of the most dangerous jobs out there. One wrong move can be detrimental. For this reason, it’s recommended that tree pruning is never done alone. While pruning shrubs is generally considered to be a less dangerous process, not all shrubs like to be shaped. Never remove more than 30 per cent of a shrub as this can result in the shrub losing its ability to grow back to its natural state. Both trees and shrubs are living things, and while we actively work to keep ourselves safe, we must also strive to keep them safe by leaving the job to trained professionals.

4. Maximize seasonal changes

Professional arborists will always recommend that tree and shrub pruning be done in the fall. By this time, the tree/shrub has had the whole summer to grow and flourish and is ready to be pruned. Fall also signifies that winter is just around the corner, meaning that any diseases or insects that could have potentially infected the tree will not survive, setting the tree/shrub up well for its next growing season. Trained arborists will advise you on what times during the fall season are best for pruning various plant types so that you can fully max out the growth potential of your own yard.

Tip: If you have a plethora of elm trees around your home, don’t prune them during the summer. Dutch elm disease, caused by a fungus that clogs the water-conducting systems of elm trees, has the power to infect all of the elm trees in any affected area which can result in a municipality’s entire tree collection being wiped out in one go. In addition to fall/winter pruning as a preventative measure, consider planting a mixture of tree types so that species-specific diseases like this one aren’t as detrimental.

5. Minimize large hazards

If a tree has the potential to damage people and/or property, it’s considered a hazard tree. Many people neglect to think about potential repercussions before cutting down large, dead trees and this can be very dangerous when people’s safety, houses, power lines, etc. are at stake. Arborists are trained to assess things like tree lean and diagnose tree rot. As soon as a tree starts to rot, it begins to fall apart which makes cutting the tree more complex. Luckily, arborists are all too familiar with this phenomenon and are very knowledgeable about proper methods for safe tree cutting and disposal. 

6. Efficient and effective cleanup

By hiring an arborist, you’ll ensure that pruning waste is either being disposed of properly or adequately prepared to be reused. If it’s a tree you’re cutting, the debris produced as a result can be cut up, stacked and readied for whatever you choose to use it for. If your home has a fire pit, this wood is perfect for burning.

Whether it’s diagnosing, appraisal, cutting and/or pruning you need for your yard’s trees or shrubs, OnGrowing Works is here to help. Don’t put your own safety or the safety of your home and its surrounding greenery at risk, contact us for all of your landscape upkeep and maintenance needs today!

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