Tree Trimming

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Tree Trimming FAQ

No one can say for sure. Many of my customers have gotten conflicting answers from certified arborists that also work for the tree service companies and were left confused or uncertain of which path to take. If you are not comfortable, it is best to get the opinion of an independent consulting arborist if you have any doubt about whether or not the tree is stable and safe.

It is difficult for an untrained eye to recognize whether a tree is unsafe. Tree service estimators are rarely independent and often recommend a more expensive job than they really believe is necessary. We don’t do this! Sometimes all it takes is wind sailing or cleaning out the inner canopy to make a tree much more stable. Other trees may have a lean and can be corrected by balancing. We will always give you honest information so that you can make the right decision for your property.

Many older trees will have dead wood and branches hung up in them. If these fall they can be dangerous – tree branches are heavy! We can clear them out for you, and we will always give you honest information about whether a tree should be removed for safety reasons.

Wind, heavy rain, snow and even hail can cause significant damage to residential trees. Understanding the impacts of storms on trees will allow you to develop both preventative measures to decrease the probability of tree damage or property damage and management approaches to care for trees after damage has occurred.

Trees may be uprooted, decapitated or suffer massive crown loss as branches are broken by the force of the wind or by the weight of ice and snow. Loss of large portions of the crown results in tree stress, a reduction of growth and entry sites for insects and disease. Depending on the degree of damage, some trees will recover on their own, others need immediate care to repair the damage incurred and some are so irreversibly damaged that they will eventually die.

If you’re worried about a tree on your property that has suffered storm damage, give us a call and we will take a look!

The treatment of storm-damaged trees requires good assessment and prompt action. Factors to consider are whether the tree has damage that is relatively superficial, damage that can be treated or damage that is beyond repair. If more than 35 to 50 percent of the main branches or trunk are severely split or broken, extensive repairs are questionable.

Several types of damage occur to trees during storms.

The first and most severe damage occurs when the trunk or main stem of the injured tree splits or is broken. Mature trees that are larger are most susceptible to this type damage. Past tree injuries and pest problems often predispose the tree to storm damage by weakening the wood structure. Trees do not heal wounds. Trees can only grow over old wounds and seal them off. Wounds are structurally weaker than solid wood.

A second, damage category is blow-over of trees. Often trees that blow over have root failure from a disease (root rot), from shallow soils or those with shallow hard pans, from soil compaction during construction, or from saturated soil from excessive rainfall.

For small to medium-sized, blown-over trees with at least 50 percent of the root system still in the soil, it may be possible to brace them with guy wires or cables.

The final and least damaging category is that of broken branches where the break occurs away from the main stem. The higher the break and smaller the diameter of the break point, the higher the probability that the tree will recover. Broken branches generally do not affect tree survival unless more than 50 percent of the crown is involved. Generally, if a tree has lost more than 50 percent of its crown, the probability of future survival is poor. These branches need maintenance quickly so that they do not become a hazard and to decrease the risk of decay organisms entering the wounds.

For moderate trimming jobs close to ground level, homeowners should follow these guidelines:

  • Smaller branches should be trimmed back to the point where they join larger ones.
  • Make the cut at a slant next to a bud that can produce new growth.
  • Do not leave branch stubs as they encourage rot and decay.
  • Large branches that are broken should be cut back to either the trunk or main limb. Do not cut the branch flush with the trunk. Instead, cut outside the collar at the base of the branch.

Broken limbs are often under tension and can kick back unexpectedly during cutting. Be alert for down and damaged power and utility lines and broken limbs that are hanging. If a tree is large and the necessary work is off the ground, call us! We have the equipment and knowledge to safely remove broken limbs and to correctly repair trees.

A damaged limb may strip healthy bark from the trees main stem or trunk. To repair this type of damage, cut any ragged edges of torn bark with a sharp chisel or knife. Take care not to remove any more healthy bark and expose more live tissue than necessary.

If possible, the wound left by the cut should be shaped like an elongated football with the pointed ends of the cut running vertically along the trunk or limb. There is no need to apply tree wound dressings to prevent decay-causing infection. Most research has shown that wound dressings (paint, tar and others) do not prevent decay, may interfere with rapid healing and in some cases can serve as food sources for harmful microorganisms.

Do not top trees!

Topping accelerates shoot growth and promotes branches that are weakly attached to stubs rather than anchored from within the limb. These branches are more likely to break in future storm events. The tree will also need all its resources to recover from the stress of storm damage. Removal of more branches and leaves reduces photosynthesis, the food-making process in plants, and depletes the trees stored reserves for maintenance and growth.

Topping trees also:

  • Leaves wounds that the tree can’t readily close
  • Ruins the structure of the tree
  • Disrupts the tree’s energy storage for future growth, which slowly destroys the tree
  • Stimulates new water sprouts that are weak and can easily break

Tree Trimming

Need to find out if your trees are readdy for trimming? Contact us at (253) 651-7494 for a free inspection and estimate.

We’ll go through all the trees on your property. We’ll look for loose or hanging branches, splits, cracks, uprooting, and any other potentially dangerous situation. We’ll check to see if trees on your property are impacting utility lines or lighting, and we’ll give you a free estimate of how much it will cost to take care of.

No one can guarantee that any particular tree is completely safe and stable, but we can locate and fix nearly all unsafe tree situations.


Tacoma, Puyallup, Lakewood, University Place, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Lake Tapps, South Hill, Parkland, Midland, Spanaway, Summit-Waller, Milton, Edgewood, Auburn