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The Road To You-Know-Where: How Your Good Intentions Can Mess Up Your Tree

Beautiful Home with Grown Up Tree
Beautiful trees make for a beautiful yard, and proper tree care is the path you have to take to get those beautiful trees. But do not give in to the temptation to do all of this work yourself. Not only is it exhausting if you have a lot of trees, but much of that work is too dangerous or has unwelcome side effects if not done correctly.

If you really want to care for your trees, back off a bit and let an arborist take over, because your good intentions can sometimes lead in the wrong direction.

The Wrong Way to Reduce Growth
Fast-growing trees that sprout thick canopies every year often need growth control. Unfortunately, this often takes the form of topping, in which tree branches are lopped off so that the tree looks like a bare stump with bare branches. A major example that you see around Texas and other Southern states is "crepe murder" (or "crape murder"), when those beautiful crepe myrtle (or crapemyrtle) trees are suddenly hacked into stumps.

Topping does not work. It takes away leaves — the tools the tree uses to get and convert sunlight to food — and the cut turns into a scar that prevents clean regrowth. You may see scraggly branches form around the scar, which means that your attempt to control tree growth just made the tree a mess.

Arborists are trained to prune trees safely, and the one you hire will know where to cut to reduce physical size without sacrificing future growth.

The Wrong Way to Stay Safe
Got tall trees? Think a ladder will be all you need? Think again. You may think it would be easy to get up on a ladder and prune a tree, but it's not. Wind, bugs flying in your face, and even a shift in weight can topple you, resulting in injury.

Arborists are trained and insured. They know how to get to the top of a tree safely and have the gear to do so.

The Wrong Way to Get Better Fruit
Fruit trees produce a lot of flowers in hopes that a bee, the wind, or something else will shake some pollen into at least one of the blooms. But all these blooms compete for a limited amount of food and water. The resulting fruit can be very small.

To get better fruit that is bigger and healthier, you need to remove many of the blossoms. This is an easy task, and it's one you can do in lower branches that you can reach from the ground. But if you have a very tall fruit tree, the upper branches will be too high for you to reach without a ladder, and that brings you right back to the problem of a potential fall.

The Wrong Way to Keep Your Tree Healthy
Pruning a tree is really injuring it — you're just injuring it in a way that it can recover from quickly. If you prune in the wrong place or at the wrong time, though, the tree may not be able to recover properly, and that leaves it susceptible to invasion by pathogens. Fungal and bacterial diseases can enter the cut, eventually killing the tree. Again, this is a job for an arborist, not you.

The Wrong Way to Keep Your Roof in One Piece
Branches that hang over your roof need to go. Should a strong storm hit and damage the branch, it could fall and damage your home. But again, an arborist is the best person for this job. Not only do you have to prune in the right spot along the branch, but you also have to do it up high and in a way that lets you catch the branch before the pruned part falls down.

Don't think that DIY will solve everything. Sometimes it's a lot safer and smarter to call an arborist like Horton Tree Service to have the work done. The result is a healthier, better tree with you in one piece.