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Avoid These 8 Critical Mistakes When Trimming Your Trees

Regardless of what tree you’re growing, trimming them will often result in healthy and lasting growth. Just like pruning, you need to consider a few things when trimming branches off your tree to prevent permanent damage to it.

That said, it’s always best to have an arborist trim your trees, as it helps protect you and your property from safety risks. But if you want to do it yourself, here are eight (8) critical mistakes to avoid when trimming your trees.

  1. Trimming Just About any Branch

More often than not, people who choose to trim their trees only target scarce and dead branches. While that’s mostly the case, you also need to keep the following in mind:

  • Amount of branches and foliage to trim away
  • Which parts and branches of the tree should you trim
  • How to properly trim the branches

You can potentially harm your tree if you don’t plan the right foliage to trim off. Doing so harms its overall health and longevity.

  1. Trimming Without Planning

Like the first mistake we discussed, you need to plan out how your tree should look after trimming it down. You must preserve the tree’s structure and health when removing branches and foliage.

Poorly trimming the branches may lead to damages that might take time and money to repair, potentially leading to the tree’s death. That said, plan before you trim.

  1. Using Improper Gear

There are tons of gardening and trimming equipment in your average hardware. However, every tool is designed for a specific use, and some of them don’t work as better as the others. For instance, a garden hacksaw can trim larger branches better than garden cutters.

Aside from that, using dull cutters and unsanitised gear may strain your tree and expose you to safety risks while trimming. Fungi and bacteria on a dirty blade can transfer to the tree, potentially causing severe damage.

If your tool is leaving jagged cuts after trimming, it creates open wounds that won’t heal as fast as sterile wounds. Hence, we strongly advice using sharp and clean tools when trimming your trees.

  1. Trimming Below the Branch Collar

A branch collar is the closest part of a branch from its main trunk. It is a crucial part of the branch that helps transport nutrients to and from the tree.

Since a tree has countless branch collars around its trunk, it can be dangerous and harmful for the tree if you trim too much of the branch and cut off the collars.

Most of the time, people would trim unwanted branches flush against the tree’s trunk. Doing so will damage the trunk’s structure and tissues. Hence, we strongly suggest cutting about an inch away from the branch collar, or the point where the branch connects with the trunk.

  1. Trimming Very Little Foliage and Branches

If you’re landscaping your shrubs and slow-growing trees, there’s a good chance that you might trim only the tips of the stems and branches. While it’s possible to do so, leaving a significant deadweight can affect the tree’s health and your safety over time.

Furthermore, if a tree shows signs of disease and fungi infestation, failing to trim enough of the branches can promote disease spreading and lead to severe growth problems.

  1. Heavy Trimming During Spring and Summer

When you trim too much foliage from a tree during its growing season, you’re running the risk of starving the tree. Keep in mind that a tree makes its food through its foliage. Thus, removing too many leaves will reduce its ability to photosynthesise.

Additionally, trimming during mid-summer, where drought likely occurs, further stresses-out your tree. A heavily trimmed tree will become less resilient, especially when water and soil moisture are severely scarce.

Excessive trimming during the hot season may also expose the tree’s previously shaded bark. Doing so will cause sunscald and dry/peeling barks.

  1. Stubbing and Flush Cutting

Performing a proper prune and trim will minimise a tree’s wounds, reducing its time to heal. On the other hand, a stub cut leaves the decaying matter in the tree that may spread backwards into the trunk.

Moreover, a flush-cut is when you cut the branch too close to the trunk and leave a large open wound, exposing the tree to fungi and diseases for a significant period. We recommend avoiding both cuts as they usually lead to the tree’s death. That said, it’s always best to have an arborist take care of the trimming.

  1. Frequent Excessive Trimming

At this point, you should already know that planning the time for trimming is crucial for your tree’s health. Aside from that, it’s also important to note the intervals of every trim.

It would be best if you give your tree enough time to heal and recover. Keep in mind that excessive trimming stresses a tree, exposing it to diseases, especially if done in the wrong season. 

Every trim is a tree’s wound, so make sure it completely recovers before you trim or prune it again. Open wounds serve as entry points for decay fungi and bacteria that can rot a tree from the inside out. Hence, frequent improper trimming can eventually kill your tree faster than its average lifespan.


The above list is only some of the many things that can go wrong when trimming and pruning your tree. So if you don’t have the confidence, tools, and skill to execute the job, it’s always efficient to have a professional handle it.

We at Trees Down Under boasts a team of passionate arborists who have been serving Sydney’s gardens for over 30 years. Speak with our staff for an appointment and experience time-tested and reliable tree and garden services.

Trees Down Under offers tree services in Sydney. Call us at 0475 463 597 for inquiries and a free estimate.

We are the perfect solution to all your trees and garden needs.

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