What You Need To Know About Elm Tree Pruning


Elm trees are one of the landscaping tree species homeowners love to hate. Like cottonwoods, elms are loved for their fast growth and ample shade, but they are hated for shedding a ton of leaves and dropping branches each fall.

If your property has mature elm trees, it doesn't make sense to remove them just to avoid cleaning up their fall mess. However, it is important to properly prune them each year.

Spring is the Correct Time to Prune Elm Trees

Elm trees trimmed in the fall are susceptible to contracting Dutch elm disease from a pest known as elm bark beetles. For this reason, you should only trim elms in the early spring before they come out of dormancy when bark beetles are not a threat.

Mature Elm Tree Trimming is a Job for Professionals

One of the most common ways homeowners are injured working around their property is by attempting to save money by pruning their trees. Tree work requires very specialized skills and knowledge. 

Since many factors are all at play when you prune a tree, what you don't know or consider can injure or kill you. For example, even a small-looking branch high up in a tree can fall with enough force to kill a human being. The branch may not look that heavy, but once it comes down, you will see how big it really is. 

Since you aren't a tree expert, you are advised to pass this job along to those who are. You can call tree pruning services in the fall and get on the spring schedule. 

DIY Elm Tree Pruning Tools

If you insist on trimming your elm tree or need to prune back some storm damage, then stay off of ladders and use only loppers, a pole pruning saw, or a chainsaw on an extension pole. 

Loppers are sharp pruners able to easily remove branches up to a couple of inches in diameter. They have long handles, giving you a lot of leverage to make cuts more manageable. Both manual pole pruning saws and pole-mounted chainsaws allow you to reach up and cut branches either not reachable by loppers or too thick in diameter.

DIY Elm Tree Trimming Technique

Tree trimming projects should always begin with evaluating which limbs to remove from the tree. When evaluating branches and trying to decide whether or not to remove them, consider:

  • If a branch is clearly dead, it needs to be removed.
  • If a branch appears dead, knock on it with your saw and see if it sounds hollow. If the branch sounds hollow, it is dead and should be removed.
  •  If two branches cross or rub on each other, one must be removed. Keep the healthiest branch or the one growing in the best location. 

In addition, remove all branches sprouting on the lower portion of the trunk. 

Finally, make sure you plan for falling branches and know a safe escape route to take as they fall.


7 December 2022

Improving The Look Of Our Trees

After we moved into our house, we knew that something had to be done about our trees. The branches looked off-kilter, and we could tell that someone had pruned them incorrectly at one time or another. Unfortunately, we weren't really sure how to repair the damage. A family friend talked with us about hiring a professional tree trimmer, and so we called them the next day. The difference that they made was astounding. They removed dead branches, trimmed up the shape, and let more sunlight through. My blog is all about improving the look of your trees by hiring a professional.