If you're like most homeowners, you want to keep your outdoor living environment looking as attractive and well-kept as possible — and this means trimming your trees to get rid of problems such as dead or dying branches and twigs and maintaining the shape and overall tidy appearance of trees and shrubs. Many homeowners, however, don't realize that their tree trimming practices often have unwanted and unintended results — unless proper precautions are taken, tree trimming frequently spreads insect eggs, fungal spores, and pathogens among trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. Following are three ways that you can help minimize the chances of this happening when trimming the trees.
Keep Your Tools Sharpened
Tools that aren't enough result in ragged cuts that increase exposure of the plant's vascular system to organisms that may cause disease, while clean, concise cuts leave minimal entry points. Always keep your pruning shears and other tools used to make cuts in trees as sharp as possible.
Keep Your Tools Sterilized
Tree trimming tools that aren't properly sterilized can result in the spread of pathogens and fungal organisms. Many gardeners use a bleach-and-water solution to sterilize their pruning shears and other gardening tools, but bleach tends to cause corrosion that results in rust, which can significantly shorten the useful life of your tools. It's better to use a mixture of household disinfectant such as Lysol and water instead, and you can also purchase cleaning and disinfecting solutions from your local home and garden retailer that have been specifically designed for use on yard and garden tools.
No matter what you decide to use to sterilize your tools, always make certain to wipe them clean of dirt and vegetative debris before you apply the disinfectant. It's particularly important to sterilize them after finishing up trimming tasks on one tree before moving on to another in case the tree you just trimmed has a disease.
Keep Clippings Raked Up
Clippings that are left on the ground after trimming provide an ideal environment for the development of fungal spores as well as provide habitat for insects pests and soil-borne pathogens. Raking these up immediately after trimming the trees helps keep these issues from becoming a part of the picture. Also, although many homeowners use these trimmings as mulch, it's very hard to be certain that no insects, pathogens, or fungi are present in the trimmings. It's best to err on the side of caution and purchase mulch that has been treated for these conditions in order to protect the overall health of your outdoor living space.