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How Not to Cut a Tree

There is so much information on the Internet on how to cut trees, but you will seldom find information on how NOT to cut a tree. If you do not follow the rules of tree felling, especially in London, you could injure yourself or cause damage to your property. Hence, if you feel uncomfortable cutting a tree, it is best to hire a tree surgeon to do the work for you. Otherwise, here are a few things you should avoid while cutting a tree yourself.


Working with Improper and/or Dull Tools
The first thing to remember is you need the right tools for cutting trees. They should be meant for tree-cutting and be in immaculate shape. Remember, dull cutting tools will not make clean cuts and this will cause the bark or wood to tear. Do not use a pair of shears to cut a branch of a tree. You should be looking to use a handsaw to cut branches that are 1 inch or more in diameter.


Making Cuts in the Wrong Places
If you are cutting a branch, you should cut at the stem collar on the branch side. Most people think they can cut a branch anywhere and it will not cause harm to the tree. On the contrary, even a small cut is stressful and traumatic for a tree. And, by making cuts at the wrong places, you increase the stress. That is why you should cut at the stem collar to ensure your tree can heal properly after receiving this wound.


Cutting During Incorrect Time of the Year
While you can cut dead branches any time of the year, a healthy branch should be cut only during the dormant season. This is the time when trees do not get as stressed and it also minimizes the possibility of fungal infection or insects infesting the tree. Look to cut a tree during late autumn or winter. You also can cut during early spring.


Mistakes to Avoid While Cutting a Tree
There are some mistakes people make while tree felling in London or anywhere and these can seriously affect the health and survival of the tree and also make you prone to injuries.

Not Using Protective Gear: Using an axe or saw is not a child's play. It can cause grievous injuries. So always wear a helmet, gloves and goggles while cutting trees. While it is not advisable to use a ladder, if you do use one, secure it firmly to the tree to prevent it from tipping over.

Not Removing the Branches Totally: If the tree has a caliper branch at the top, it should be removed. This is because the branch will use up the nutrients and continue growing and the other lower branches will not get sufficient nutrients. So, if you just cut back the branch, you risk it thickening and stiffening. So, it is best to remove it completely rather than risk this problem.

Cutting too Little off the Top: When shaping the tree, look to give the tree a Christmas tree shape - narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. This will ensure the sunlight permeates to the lower branches as well. If you do not achieve this shape, the upper branches will absorb the sunlight and grow even bigger, causing a shadow on the lower branches. As a result, your tree will develop a mushroom shape or have an inverted Christmas tree shape.

Not Cutting Off Drooping Branches: If the tree is not meant to have droopy branches, you should get rid of it. All trees are supposed to grow vertically, toward the sun and the juiciest fruits are borne on branches that grow horizontally. So, if the branches are drooping and growing towards the soil, it means they are not getting sufficient nutrients and hence, will not produce the best fruits Remove the droopy branches to improve the yield and health of the tree.

Prune and Trim Trees: While it is best to prune trees every year, sometimes it may not be the best way forward. Hence, you should use your judgement to prune trees and this will come with experience. If a tree has not been pruned or trimmed for a long time, do not go berserk with your saw. This will cause it to have a spurt of growth. In such cases, try to do minimal cutting in year one, followed by more cutting in year two. This will prevent the tree from having vigorous growth after the cutting. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a dwarf variety, it is prudent to cut it every year. If you cannot do this then cut it every other year.

Letting the Branches Hang Low: When you prune or trim trees, remove the low hanging branches, as they can pose a health risk to the tree. Low hanging branches can become entry points for pests, insects and disease. That is why it is best to get rid of them by making cuts at the right places.

Not Cutting Dense Foliage: If you let the foliage get too dense and thick, sunlight will not be able to penetrate to the lower branches. Also, dense foliage restricts air circulation. Look to prune the inside branches of the tree to reduce the density of the foliage and facilitate air circulation.


Always remember, if the tree is below a live power line, you should never cut it yourself. Also, do not cut a tree that is within 5 meters of a electrical equipment and power lines. It is best to leave the cutting to a tree surgeon. Also, when cutting a tree, make sure you cut just one-third of the branches and leave behind the rest. If you don't do this, you risk the survival of the tree.

Rather than making these mistakes while cutting a tree, it is best to bring in a professional, who knows how to cut a tree correctly and has the right equipment. While you will be spending money on this, at least you can rest assured knowing the right permissions will be taken from the local planning authority and the tree will be cut correctly and in a professional manner.
Posted on June 8th, 2014
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Author: Pol Bishop
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