Trim Your Yard Tree – When To Trim

terrible tree trim job
Severely over-trimmed tree

WARNING – Stop wasting valuable money ruining the trees in your yard by having non-professionals trim your yard trees. It’s a travesty to drive around any neighborhood and see all the wonderful trees that have been ruined by people unqualified to trim them.

With few exceptions, you should NOT trim your yard tree. And if one of these exceptions arises, then spend the time and money to find a qualified arborist to trim your tree. And don’t tell him how to trim it. Tell him your problem or issue and let him make the trimming decisions.

An exception might be a tree planted too near your house that is damaging your roof. Or you might have a giant tree planted to close to your neighbor’s house with a giant limb hanging over his or her roof. Sometimes you’ll have a large tree planted to near a fence and it is damaging the fence.

Before You Trim Your Tree

olive tree butchered
A man in a beat up truck trimmed this tree

But, before you try and trim your yard tree yourself or hire some unlicensed, untrained folks in a ratty old truck to come trim it, contact a certified arborist and have him come give you his opinion and estimate. Just because a man owns a truck and a chain saw doesn’t make him qualified to trim your trees.

The photo above and the one to the left are a prime example of what can happen to a wonderful olive tree that has been brutalized by amateur tree trimmers.
All of these trees are in the front yards in a single block of a Sacramento neighborhood.

The Perfect Olive Tree

perfect olive tree
This olive tree has never been trimmed

On the right you’ll see a perfect olive tree that’s never been trimmed.  Note its full, beautiful canopy.  It’s a tree that you’d be proud to have in your yard.  And the owner has spent no money getting it to look like this – except for when it was very young and the lower limbs were trimmed to provide nutrients for the upper limbs.

A Hacked Olive Tree

bad trim olive tree
Tree hacked to death by homeowner

Below is an olive tree that was trimmed – or shall we say hacked to death – by the homeowner two years ago.  Not only will it never grow to look like its brother above, it is just plain ugly – an eyesore.  The person responsible for trimming this tree should be banned from ever having another tree in his yard.

shaped olive tree
An olive tree is not a mushroom

Almost every olive tree on the block has been trimmed to death.  Particularly galling is the tree trimmed to look like a giant mushroom.  Not only does this tree look strange, but the homeowner spends a full-day at least once a year trimming it himself.  And, climbing on the ladder with a hedge trimmer is dangerous.  It would be very costly to pay someone to do this work every year.

You’ll note that the tree above was trimmed-back a couple of years ago and is now getting a new canopy.  But note how all the limbs appear to be reaching upward to the sun – which is what they are doing.  This tree will never resemble the beautiful tree near the top.  It’s ruined for life.

butchered olive tree
An olive tree art project

While you might argue that it’s your tree and you can do what you want with it – think again. You are taking something beautiful and turning it into some grotesque monster by carelessly cutting a majority of its canopy. Not only does it destroy the look of your yard, it affects the entire block.

Imagine if tree trimmers were allowed to do this to all the trees in the park, or your local zoo, or a forest. You’d be appalled. So why allow it to happen in your own yard?

Trim Your Yard Tree While Your Tree Is Young

The most important time to trim your yard tree is when it is very young and growing quickly. During these early years a qualified tree trimmer will selectively trim lower branches so as the tree grows you won’t have large, lower branches hanging over sidewalks, driveways, and into your house or roof. Such trimming also allows for more water and nutrients to get to the higher branches so they’ll grow faster and stronger. This trimming must be done by an expert – not some local company you found on Craig’s List or in a newspaper ad.

Remember, trees require very little trimming. And before any trimming is done, you should contact a licensed, certified tree expert or arborist to come to your home and view the tree or trees in question. Ask his opinion on what he would do. Don’t tell him you want it cut back or thinned as it is too thick or is dropping too many leaves.

butchered trees in yard
How trees grow when they are cut too far back

Unfortunately, we’ve seen cases where a certified arborist will do damage to a tree by cutting it back too far or thinning it too much just because that’s what the homeowner wants. It’s still a butcher job even if done by an expert.

The best advice is to explain to the expert what concerns or problems you have with the tree or trees in question and ask his advice on what he’d suggest. Don’t dictate what you think is best.

And above all, stop using these unlicensed, inexperienced chain-saw jockeys who will butcher your tree for the lowest price.

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