How Much Can You Cut Off a Tree Safely?

When it comes to pruning trees, there is a golden rule: don't prune more than 15-20% of its canopy at once. Learn more about how much you can safely cut off a tree from an expert.

How Much Can You Cut Off a Tree Safely?

When it comes to pruning trees, there is a golden rule to follow: don't prune more than 15 to 20 percent of a tree's canopy at a time. This is especially true for older trees, which need as much photosynthesizing foliage as possible to stay healthy. In general, a healthy, mature tree can only handle having about 10 to 15 percent of its foliage removed at a time. If you have a particularly sick tree, any removal of foliage can cause it to die permanently. It's important to note that poor pruning can damage or kill a tree, posing a safety hazard.

An arborist or horticulturist should examine trees before any pruning is done. If you have exceeded the limits of what is safe for the tree, you may have some legal options. If your neighbors enter without authorization and cut branches on your property, you can sue for damages and seek a court order prohibiting further intrusions. You can also sue for damages if the actions of neighbors damaged or killed a tree, even if they never set foot on your property. However, these legal options are costly and uncertain. If you decide to cut down a tree yourself, it's important to take into account the size of the tree and the location.

It's faster and easier to cut down a tree with a narrow trunk than one with a wide trunk. If the tree is in a dangerous position and could cause damage if it falls, special precautions must be taken, including the use of cranes and other equipment. When cutting down a tree, make two cuts at the bottom and top of the branch so that the weight of the limb will cut through the canopy for you. If you cause any damage to property or public services when cutting down a tree, you are responsible and could even face fines. It's also important to note that if you prune trees in spring, when leaves start to appear, sap will come off and may not heal when cut, making the tree vulnerable to diseases and insects and causing long-term damage. In many areas, some trees are protected species or have historical value.

Unless you have real training as an arborist and have the right equipment, it's always best to hire a professional company to cut down a tree for you.

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