woman on bench in park with low tree branches

What to Do When Your Tree Branches Get Too Low

Low Tree Branches Need to Be Trimmed or Removed

Trees in nature are often beautifully unkempt, sometimes with large, long branches sweeping low to the ground. This is lovely for shade, dramatic in fall, and perhaps great for children to play on. However, in some urban situations it becomes necessary to remove these lower branches; for instance, a branch that blocks a pathway, is rubbing against another, or is below the height for city code.

Still, the majority of the time, you do NOT want to cut away your lower branches! This is because they’re there for an important reason: they serve as a tree’s structural reinforcement. This is particularly crucial during storm season. A tree that has much of its lower trunk exposed can get more directly hit by strong winds, causing it to upend (known as “windthrow”).

A tree with too many of its lower branches removed can also have its immune system compromised, especially if the limbs are cut off incorrectly. This can lead to decay and death [link: dead, sick or dying] or infestation.

Sometimes the rationale for homeowners is to bring more sunlight into the tree or to help the grass around it grow greener. While thinning the crown can be a good idea, removing these lower branches can increase water usage as the sun dries the soil more quickly. If not properly monitored, this can lead to winter drought.

Here are some important DON’TS when removing low tree branches.

DON’T remove more than ⅓ of the total height of the tree. If your tree is 30 feet, for example, only remove branches up to 10 feet from the ground.

DON’T raise the canopy too high or trim more than 20% (usually 10% or less is best) – this makes ugly, “broccoli” trees.

DON’T get out the saw and start cutting indiscriminately, especially if the branches are big and heavy.

DON’T trim oak trees between February and June, to prevent the spread of oak wilt disease.

DON’T prune lower branches in summer that can lead to sun scald.

And here are some DO’s.

DO extend the mulch area around the base of the tree, which will help prevent evaporation.

DO remove dead or diseased branches as soon as possible. Otherwise, late winter/early spring is generally considered best.

If it involves public property or extensive trimming and you are in Dallas, you may want to speak to one of the city’s arborists to make sure it’s up to code.

How to Remove a Lower Tree Branch

To remove a lower tree branch safely, you need to make THREE cuts. First, make a ¼” cut on the underside of the branch approx 2-3 feet away from the trunk; this will prevent it from splitting and harming the trunk. Next, cut all the way through the branch a foot or less outside the notch cut; this will allow the majority of the weight of the branch to fall off safely. Make the final cut right at the branch collar (where the it joins the tree).

It’s important that you don’t cut the tree branch past the collar because it will prevent it from healing properly, nor do you want to leave too big a stump. The tree will form a coating, like a scab; but unlike a human or animal, the scab does not go away and protects the removed limb for life.

Now that we’ve given you a few pointers on how to remove a lower tree branch, we’ll add our pitch for having DFW Tree Removal Service in Dallas-Ft. Worth do it for you!

We can come out and assess the tree and give you our recommendation as to whether it’s advisable to remove the lower branches or not. If the answer is yes, we can take care of all the tools and safety protocols required.

If the branches are under 8 feet long (or can be chopped up), homeowners in the Dallas area can leave them bundled for the monthly bulky item pickup. Otherwise, we can include the cost of removing them in our estimate.

The important thing to remember is that hiring a tree removal service is for not just your safety but the safety of your property, your neighbors, and, of course the lovely tree itself. When you have these limbs removed with care it will not adversely affect its lifespan and it can usually be taken care of in an afternoon.

For a free estimate on tree services for your home or business call DFW Tree Services today at (469) 706-9832.

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