5-9-13 WVU Extension offers need-to-know tips on tree removal and trimming services

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Spring is the ideal time to perform upkeep tasks outdoors. Removing fallen or trimming overgrown trees are essential parts of property maintenance. West Virginia University Extension Service experts suggest tips to keep you and your property safe — and your trees healthy.

Each year, approximately 85 people die in the United States as a result of accidents that occur from improperly trimming and pruning trees, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health data.

“The safest way to trim a tree is to hire a professional,” said Karen Cox, WVU Extension Service Marshall County agriculture program assistant.

However, Cox says it is equally important that the landowner be well-informed before hiring any tree trimming service.

“Inadequate or improper trimming and pruning techniques can lead to even more work and possible property damage, injury or fatality caused by unstable future growth of the tree,” she said.

Knowledge and experience of tree pruning practices are required of reputable tree trimming services.  Cox suggests asking questions that emphasize how each service will be completed.

  • Why does the tree need pruning?
  • Will you cut the main tree stem?
  • How much of the crown will be removed?
  • What is your procedure when cutting a tree around power lines?
  • What if someone gets hurt?
  • What if a limb damages my house or a neighbor’s property?

Tree maintenance and trimming are important to property maintenance and value. Be sure to hire a trimming service that has quality references and takes the necessary safety precautions such as the use of safety glasses, harnesses and other protective gear. If you can observe them prior to hiring, it is worth seeing the quality of work they perform.

Making sure the business carries the proper insurance, memberships and permits is mandatory when selecting a tree trimming service provider.

When hiring a professional tree trimming service, it is also important to know what technique they will use.  There are several methods for trimming a tree, some of which are detrimental to its growth and hardiness. Incorrectly trimmed trees are more likely to fall victim to environmental factors.

“Wounds and damage to the tree increase the chance of disease and attack by insects,” said Cox.

The most popular technique, “tree topping” risks the strength of limb growth. This technique involves cutting all of the tree’s limbs at a specific height or limb size.

“Although the main part of the tree will eventually re-grow after trimming, fresh growth may become flimsy and break,” Cox said. “Improper trimming techniques risk the future health and safety of the tree.”

Lastly, be wary of companies that seek out your business.

Even if a tree is large, it may have the ability to withstand strong winds, ice and snow, and does not necessarily need to be trimmed.

For more information and tips on selecting trees and tree services, planting and pruning trees, visit the WVU Extension Service Agriculture and Natural Resources website at www.anr.ext.wvu.edu, or contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service.

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