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The Risks of DIY Tree Pruning

Trees are a highly desirable softscape element in landscape design but are susceptible to many risks when left unattended to for extended periods of time. This includes the loss of structural integrity, branch falling, infectious diseases and tree growth into hazardous areas. Such risks pose serious hazards to both your landscape and users of your space. Just as the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure, hence constant landscape maintenance in Singapore is required.

At this point, you would probably have recognised the importance of tree pruning and may be keen to start attempting to do it yourself. Unfortunately, several dangers exist in tree pruning, ranging from risks of further tree damage, to health hazards to yourself. To aid you, this article gives an overview of such risks and recommends actions to take to avoid them.

Over Pruning

At the very top of our list is over pruning. Generally, it is recommended that only 5-10% of a tree’s foliage should be cut off at any one time. Bearing in mind that a tree’s leaves are required for it to photosynthesize and produce food for itself, by over pruning, you would be literally starving the tree.


In their enthusiasm for keeping their tree healthy, many amateurs perform gutting, which involves excessively large cuts to thin their tree. However, they forget that a tree is a living thing, and in performing gutting, they actually cause long term permanent damage to the tree. In fact, during gutting, the branch collar is removed, hence the tree loses specialised cells required for healing. Furthermore, the wound is vulnerable to both pests and disease, thus putting the entire tree at risk.


In an attempt to stifle the vertical growth of a tree’s foliage and avoid its intrusion into buildings or telephone lines, many people turn to topping. A form of gutting, topping is the practice of cutting away large sections of the top of a tree’s crown and its branches. Consequently, what is left is a very ugly, deformed and weakened tree that in all likelihood will die in the short run.

It Can Make Your Landscape Less Beautiful

One of the purposes of having a tree is for the improvement of the landscape’s aesthetics. However, if you fail to prune the tree properly, the tree may become an eyesore. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to envision the difference between the before and after of cutting a tree’s branches. For example, the tree’s branches may originally be obscuring an area that you may not wish to reveal to outsiders, but cutting off a particular branch might expose it.

Tree Pruning Involves Sharp Tools & Heights

Tree pruning has been listed as a high risk job owing to the required use of chainsaws, ladders and handsaws, and the height which work is done at. Even the smallest lapse in concentration, misjudgement or entrance unfavourable environmental conditions can cause severe injury.

Furthermore, unlike professions who employ special safety precautions and equipment such as bucket trucks and harnesses, DIY amateurs may solely use ladders to access tree branches. In doing so, some attempt to step on top of branches, which may break under their weight, causing a possibly fatal fall.

Lack of Experience in Identifying which Branches to Cut

A lack of experience makes it difficult for amateurs to visually distinguish between healthy and dead branches. For example, you may believe that you have successfully cut the dead branches on your tree only to find out the next morning that you removed the wrong one. When this happens, the real dead branch may fall on the roof or even a parked car. As a result, it can lead to additional expenses on your part for the subsequent repairs.

The Benefits of Hiring Professionals

Having covered the possible risks of DIY tree pruning, it is evident that this task requires expertise in horticulture and risk management. As such, it is highly recommended that you engage a professional tree pruning service if you do not have prior experience.


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