Tree Trimming Basics

Tree trimming is an art and a science. One has to consider tree biology while removing limbs strategically over time. Tree trimming should not be viewed as a one-time effort. Trees continue to grow, and it is important for us in the tree care industry to be able to adjust over time to environmental conditions and the specific needs of a tree. 

One can have many different reasons for trimming a tree, like promoting the health of a given tree, trimming infected limbs by parasitic species, trimming specific limbs to maintain access to walkways or driveways, trimming limbs away from structures and power lines to prevent structural damage and mitigate safety concerns, and trimming specific limbs to cater to a homeowner’s aesthetic value. 

The above-mentioned reasons for tree trimming are particularly important in urban environments. There are many different environmental pressures at play in our urban areas that have an effect on a given tree’s life cycle that differs from a tree growing on acreage in the Edwards Plateau ecoregion. Also, humans live in close proximity to these trees in urban areas, therefore we need to manage them to accommodate our needs while maintaining a tree’s health and well-being. 

Both Fall and Winter are great times to give your existing trees some love through tree trimming. This time of year, most trees are going dormant by slowing down photosynthesis and relying more upon stored energy obtained during the Spring and Summer months. Trees will also invest more energy towards root growth during this time of year instead of canopy growth. For red oaks (Quercus texana) and live oaks (Quercus virginiana), this time of year is ideal to trim their canopies, because oak wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum), a parasitic fungi, is not active during colder months. We are not allowed by most cities to trim live oaks and red oaks during February 1st – June 30th timeframe, because that is when oak wilt is likely to be active. Considering climate change over time, this timeframe could change oak wilt’s active months.

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