Grove Wisdom: Knowledge for the Amateur Arborist

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The following is a guest article written by Donald K. Hayes from Hayes Lawn and Tree Care.

A little about them:

We are a locally owned and operated business out of Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee. We proudly serve Dickson and Montgomery Counties. Feel free to contact us for all of your lawn and tree care needs.

You can contact Hayes Lawn and Tree Care on their Facebook page.

Take it away Donald!


When preparing for any type of tree work, there many things to consider.

These things include:

  • the scope of the project
  • safety
  • and the necessary tools

First, take a look at how large of a job that you are trying to accomplish. If you feel that your training and experience are inadequate for the project, please call a professional.

However, if your prior experience meets the criteria and the job is within range of your skills, then proceed with your project.

You will want to decide the scope of your project and how it will look once finished. Before starting anything, take time to consider the outcome of your project.

Safety is important to consider after deciding the outcome.

The size of the job decides how much safety equipment will be needed.

Smaller jobs generally require a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves.

Larger jobs will require additional PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Also, make sure to look over the tree itself and the work area to apply any additional safety measures.

The correct tools will make the job go much smoother.

For small jobs, you will shears, hand saw and something to carry debris (tarp, trailer, etc).

For larger jobs, you may need a larger saw, rope, ladder, and more people.

Choosing the correct type of saw is very important. Small pruning jobs will require a pair of shears or a small hand saw. Medium jobs will require larger hand saws with possible extensions. Larger jobs may be accomplished with hand saws, but may need a chainsaw.

Only use a chainsaw if necessary, and if you have the required experience. Never use a larger chainsaw than you are used too.

Make sure to use a similar size saw in relation to the type of cutting needed.

After your preparations are complete, you can use the following tips to help you complete your project.

Decide whether your job involves pruning, trimming, or hazard removal. If you are doing any pruning or trimming, make sure it is done during the tree’s dormant season.

You can find this information for the specific type of tree online. Most trees will be dormant during the fall and winter months.

Pruning acts to aid in the growth of the tree, similar to cutting dead ends off of hair. When pruning, only remove a few inches of the outer tree. If possible, prune only weaker, skinnier limbs and use the shears to shape up the tree.

Trimming acts to remove unwanted or unsightly limbs. It also helps when trying to completely reshape the tree. Before trimming, decide how much you wish to remove and what you want the outcome to look like. Trim in one area at a time until, moving to the next, until all is removed. Then you can go back and do touch ups.

When making any cut, make sure to make a downward vertical cut on the limb. For smaller limbs, cut away the weaker v-shaped areas with clean cuts. For larger limbs, follow the same steps, but cut the limb in smaller increments. This will prevent the limb from breaking and causing a safety hazard or stripping away bark.

Stripped bark leaves a large wound and does unnecessary damage to the tree.

For hazards, remove any limbs that present a problem whether it’s visual or they are in the way. For dead limbs or minor storm damage, cut the limb in to increments starting at the unattached end. Any debris can be piled up and disposed of depending on where you live.

Now, you are armed with some basic knowledge to tackle your tree trimming project.

We hope that our guide helps you, and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.


Thanks so much Donald, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

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