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FL SNIPER

What is a good season to cut a tree branch?

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My neighbor's tree, I believe its some kind of maple, has a branch that overhangs onto my property and rests on top of my evergreen tree...which is hindering the growth of my evergreen...and actually maybe killing the top a little. I'd like to ask my neighbor if its ok if I trim her branch back, so my evergreen can get healthy again.

First off, do I have the legal right to cut it regardless of what she says, since it hangs over my property? Second, is now a good season to cut or should I wait until spring? Third, should I suggest cutting the whole branch back to the trunk or just far enough back so it is not hanging over my evergreen? If it were my tree I'd probably cut it back to the trunk, but I just don't know how my neighbor will react...probably just fine...I tend to think the worst.

Thanks guys - FL Sniper

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In the state of MN we have a law called aerial trespass. It allows you to trim tree branches of a neighboring tree that overhang your property line.

The best course of action would be to talk to your neighbor about getting it trimmed or see if they will allow you to do it. The best possible solution for the branch to be trimmed would be to cut it back to a suitable crotch, or back to the trunk if you think it will continue to grow into your tree.

If they will not consent than that is where the law comes in. Then you can trim the branch back to the property line as long as you do not cross the line to do the work. It may not be as clean or ideal for the tree, but it will accomplish what you want and you will not have broken any laws even though you might annoy your neighbor.

I would definitely contact the neighbor first and I would also trim the branch. Evergreens do not like being encroached upon by deciduous trees and if the top isn't dying its probably trying to find a way to grow around it.

We've had frost so this is the perfect time to trim the branch.

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Thanks Powerstroke. I just want to get my facts together before I approach her about it. I'm guessing she'll be cool but you just never know and I wanted answers to any possible comments or questions she'll have. Thanks again. FL Sniper.

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I like power strokes reply. Cutting back a tree limb should be done all the way back to a ( Y ) or fork in the branch or if its the whole limb then about 1/4 inch from the tree trunk. I haven't seen it mentioned that if this is a maple then around mid summer is the best time to trim back branch (from what I've been told). Maple (even if not a sugar maple) have heavy sap flows in the spring which could cause the tree (if pruned) to loose alot of sap if cut to late in the spring. This is just what I've heard I'm no expert so take it for what its worth.I'm not sure if triming it in the winter early would be a good thing or not...

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Yep, Powerstroke is right on target. For those not familiar with branch collars and proper pruning cuts, there are many pics and illustrations online. Pickelfarmer is on the right track that it is wrong to cut flush against the trunk, but there isn't a set measurement to stay away from the trunk. Location of the cut is dictated by the location of the branch collar. Because Ma Nature likes to throw a curve once in awhile, not every branch will have a collar. If you are unsure of the exact location of the cut, it is best to leave it a little long (stub) rather than cutting it too short (flush cut).

On timing, dormancy is the best. You may have sap flow, depending upon temperature fluctuations, but there is no health issue when the trees "bleed". They lose a little bit of sugar, but it is not going to have an adverse effect. Consider that in the syrup biz, people are purposely draining sap from trees.

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Right on fishingforester pruning during dormancy is the best time along with fall, and the internet is full of pruning info and great pictures on proper technic and placement.

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Quote:
I haven't seen it mentioned that if this is a maple then around mid summer is the best time to trim back branch (from what I've been told).

Thought I'd contact my brother-in-law about this. He holds a master's in forestry and has been working in the forest industry for the past 20 years or so.

Here is his reply.

Q.

When is the best time to trim trees?

A.

If you are talking about trimming trees like evergreens then it should be done in early to mid august. A Christmas tree is an example.

If you are talking pruning evergreens or hardwoods, the best time is in the fall after the nutrients have been transported to the roots. Winter is fine as well. Never prune from April thru July. Insects and disease problems persist during these months.

Q.

Yes, I am talking about pruning hardwoods. Is there a rule of thumb regarding where to make the cut? Is it a certain minimum distance from the main beam or something else?

A.

Rule of thumb is to cut along the branch collar. No need for paints or other gimmicks, if done properly the tree will heal itself.

Hope this helps.

Bob

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Exactly what has been said. I worked forestry for 8 yrs before shifting gears.

If you do not know what a branch collar is look it up online or in a book. 99% of the time its very easy to identify.

There is no danger of hardwood trees flowing sap. People freak out because they can see it running down the tree, but its no different than collecting sap for maple syrup from the same trees every spring.

The real danger is in opening a wound during the insect season. Too many diseases are spread by insects or fungal spores. Thats why you shouldn't prune Apr-Jul. I would make it more like september if it was me. Better safe than sorry, especially if you don't know the exact tree species you're dealing with.

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Quote:
I haven't seen it mentioned that if this is a maple then around mid summer is the best time to trim back branch (from what I've been told).

Never prune from April thru July. Insects and disease problems persist during these months.

Bob

Yes this is correct. Mostly because of the new growth that the tree is pushing. I guess I was thinking August for a maple would be the best time to prune.I guess thats not really mid summer more like late summer.Or to be safe September like Powerstroke says.Just my 2 cents

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fall is best as some of the leaves are starting to fall off and you can see which branches are out of place and such. we did our hedge and apple trees in sept and they are lokking great right now I might go out and do them in the spring before things start to heat up...(fine tuning)

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I tried doing a quick search on this law I could reference, did not find much. Do you have a link you culd post with this info? Or is the law called something else? I have the same issue....

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Originally Posted By: BobT
Quote:
I haven't seen it mentioned that if this is a maple then around mid summer is the best time to trim back branch (from what I've been told).

Never prune from April thru July. Insects and disease problems persist during these months.

Bob

Yes this is correct. Mostly because of the new growth that the tree is pushing. I guess I was thinking August for a maple would be the best time to prune.I guess thats not really mid summer more like late summer.Or to be safe September like Powerstroke says.Just my 2 cents

Well sorta,

Some trees should only be pruned during dormancy. But many (most) can be pruned year round without adverse effect.

A maple can be pruned anytime, even during spring when sap flow is high.

To answer the original question, yes you have legal right to prune branches overhanging your property, so long as you do not trespass to gain access to the tree and so long as you do not prune the tree in such a manner that it would be harmful or damaging to the the tree.

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