Trimming can be done to give a neat, tasteful look to the shape of your trees, allowing the canopy and branches to supplement the rest of your landscaping. A trained eye can focus on exactly what needs to be trimmed, enhancing the shape and structure of a tree and guaranteeing a perfect, stylish trimming. Or, to paraphrase Michelangelo, “ You just trim away the parts of the tree that don’t look like a tree.”
Of course, this is hard when the trim is absolutely necessary. When a tree grows too close to power lines, it becomes a safety hazard. While the techniques used to trim a tree can help it continue its strong growth while avoiding the hazard, they can also make a tree look much different. Luckily, a clever arborist came up with a way that branches can grow around the power lines while preserving the health and structural integrity of the tree. This is called “directional pruning.”
The Shigo Method of Directional Pruning
Directional pruning is also called “natural pruning” or “the Shigo method” after the arborist who came up with it. It means that only the branches that are heading toward power lines are pruned. These branches are always pruned down to the “crotch”, the point where they reach another branch, leaving no nub. The branches growing away or down from the wires are left to continue growing.
When done properly, directional pruning heals well, minimizing regrowth and decay. But it also helps trees grow in an aesthetically pleasing manner! When done early in the tree’s growth, this pruning method helps the branches grow around power lines in a natural-looking way. This will also reduce the likelihood of more branch removals in the future.
This is the most stylish of trims because there’s no need top the tree and leave it with a hedged crown. Instead, the tree’s branches will have an L-shape (for lines that are only on one side) or a V-shape (for lines that are overhead), leaving a clear path for the power lines that looks tidy. It might look unbalanced when the cuts are made, but directional pruning is designed to grow in such a way that corrects it. Over time, the tree will look much healthier, and won’t require topping.
Always Be Careful!
Trimming and pruning is already a hazardous job, and the presence of power lines makes it more so. But it’s absolutely necessary to keep the electricity flowing and to prevent downed lines in bad weather. The best way to stop branches from coming into contact with power lines is to not have trees growing by power lines. This is easier said than done, because many trees will be in place long before power lines are installed, but new trees should be placed away from sensitive infrastructure.
For safety’s sake, trimming around power lines should be left to the professionals. The tree can be in contact with the electricity and you’ll have no idea until it’s too late. Even seasoned professionals need to take their time and evaluate the whole tree before they begin. Luckily, they are the ones that are best trained to keep your tree looking stylish, even when it starts to clash with power lines.