Pruning and maintaining trees

By: DavidPage

Pruning and maintaining trees

Florida is home to hundreds maintaining trees of different tree species. There are many types of trees in Florida. However, there are some basic principles that you must follow when taking care of most of them. You should know what type of soil your tree prefers, how much sunlight it requires, and what fertilizer it needs. Your tree will thrive if you do not mulch or prune it.


Mulch helps to regulate soil temperatures. This keeps roots more comfortable in winter than summer. Mulch helps retain soil moisture and reduces tree’s water requirements. Mulch is a good choice for trees because it can control weeds, reduce soil erosion and improve soil. Follow these tips to reap the benefits of mulch.

  • A 2- to 3-inch layer is recommended. Mulch should be applied to a depth between 2 and 3 inches for coarse materials like pine nuggets. Mulch intercepts rain and irrigation that is meant for the roots of trees, so adding more mulch could cause harm.
  • Avoid “volcano mulching.” Mulch placed against a tree’s trunk can retain moisture, which encourages rot. Mulch also encourages roots growth close to the trunk. This can lead to the death of the tree.
  • Mulch all the way to the dripline or further. Mulch must be at least 8ft in diameter around the tree. The entire root system of trees, which often extends beyond the drip line, would be naturally mulched in a forest environment.
  • Take out old mulch. Mulch can become matted over time, which prevents water and air from leaking through. You should periodically (every few years) remove any mulch or soil that is against your trunk. Also, take out roots and other plants growing in the mulch. You should remove old mulch before you add new mulch to the landscape.


Pruning trees is a selective way to remove branches in order to clear space, reduce breakage risk, or reduce tree size. Follow these steps when pruning. After removing the branches, you can shred the resulting cuts to add to the compost pile, or to use as mulch. The cuttings can be left behind as a shrub for decomposition.

  • Keep it strong. Get rid of any diseased or dead branches.
  • Maintain the leader. Cut back on stems that threaten the main leader.
  • Keep it consistent. Get rid of branches that cross or touch one another, and get rid of any that look out-of-place.
  • Keep it small. It is best to only do minor tasks when pruning your landscape. For trees that are more than 15 feet high, it is best to hire an arborist certified through the International Society of Arboriculture. Correct pruning can make trees more resilient to hurricane damage.

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For tree pruning advice, consult an arborist. An arborist is someone who is trained in the proper techniques. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certifies arborists. A certification indicates that an arborist has completed continuing education provided by the ISA.

Search by zip code to locate an ISA-certified arborist within your local area.

These are some tips for hiring a qualified arborist

  • Ask the arborist to provide proof of workers’ comp insurance. Check for any licenses or permits that are required by your state and local governments.
  • Avoid arborists who claim they can “top” trees.
  • Ask more than one arborist for a job and receive a written proposal.
  • Ask them for references and don’t be afraid of checking them. Tree care is an investment that will last a lifetime.


New Floridians tend to avoid deciduous trees as they don’t believe the leaves can be raked. However, deciduous trees help reduce energy costs. They shade a house during summer and allow sunlight to heat it in winter.

You can either remove leaves and pine needles from the soil or use them for mulch. To create a self-mulching area, leave leaves under trees. When they are decomposed, leaves can add nutrients to soil and organic matter. To avoid raking, you can plant shrubs beneath trees. The shrubs will get the benefit of decomposing litter. They can also hold the leaves in place and won’t be cluttering up your landscape. Be aware that certain shrubs may not grow well under trees, as they are subject to competition from the roots of trees for water and nutrients.