As arborists, live limb removal is a big part of our business. However, limb removal is also something we frequently find ourselves advising against. Why? Oftentimes, folks want the lower limbs of their trees removed because they are the branches closest to their home, and as a result, these branches appear to threaten home damage.
In reality, lower limbs provide protection from falling branches because it is the higher limbs, near the top of the tree, that are prone to falling. Remove the lower limbs and you might just leave your home exposed to the most dangerous branches
That said, there are certain situations when it is okay or even encouraged to remove tree limbs. In this post, we’re going to tackle the question, “When should I remove live tree limbs?” by considering all the factors involved.
I. When the Tree is Healthy
You should only be removing a tree’s live limbs if the tree is in good condition. Just as surgery takes a toll on the human body, tree surgery impacts the health of a tree, leaving its immune system compromised. Don’t make it harder on your tree by attempting major limb removal if it isn’t up for the physical distress.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean your tree needs to be a young, spry sapling – older trees can be good candidates for limb removal too. In fact, more established trees may be better off. By the same token, neither does your tree have to be old. If you’re not sure if your tree is healthy enough for safe limb removal, we suggest getting the opinion of a certified arborist, like yours truly.
II. When the Weather Is Cold
The second most important factor to consider is the weather. In St. Louis, the ideal time for limb removal is around November 1st. That’s because, with the winter months just around the corner, your recovering tree will be safe from tree pests that can’t stand the cold. Furthermore, the dormant season gives your tree time to decompartmentalize to prevent further decay. So, your tree will be spared any added physical stress as it recovers.
The ideal time for limb removal varies a bit throughout the country. For example, in very cold parts of the midwest, it’s perfectly fine to remove limbs later on because the winters last longer. In temperate areas such as the deep south, however, it can be hard to find a good time to remove limbs because warm weather pests may be active year-round.
Because of this variance, we suggest talking with your local certified arborist about the best time of year for limb removal.
III. When The Time is Right For Your Tree Species
Finally, we like to mention that tree species should also be considered when deciding if and when to remove limbs. While late fall through winter is the best season for most trees, there are certain exceptions. For example, the Pin Oak – a common one around St. Louis – should not have limbs removed during fall. Doing so leaves this sensitive tree vulnerable to oak wilt.
Exceptions like this are another reason we always recommend consulting with a certified arborist before making any big decisions about limb removal. Even if you choose to remove limbs yourself, it’s a good idea to make sure the tree is healthy enough and that it is the correct time of year for limb removal. And, if you do decide to tackle limb removal on your own, we only recommend doing so if you can reach the limb from the ground – meaning, you don’t need a ladder to reach the limb. (For more info on trimming your own trees, check out our post – and why we typically recommend you shouldn’t.)
If you’re in the St. Louis area and you’re considering limb removal, don’t hesitate to give Jackson Tree Service a call. We can equip you with all the limb removal knowledge you’ll ever want and take care of the procedure with no mess left behind. Just give us a call to get a quote.