By fall, many trees have stopped producing new leaves and buds and have begun to enter their dormant season. While each tree’s water and sap movement slows in cooler weather, the opportunity for tree-trimming is ripe, when pruning causes less interruption to a plant’s internal mechanisms and parasitic activity is minimized.

Healthy branches sometimes need to be trimmed because they are overgrowing and hindering sunlight traveling to other plants, or because they are covering sidewalks, streets, power lines and other property. Dead or diseased branches are cut to keep them from becoming a falling hazard, and to prevent fungi, disease or insects from spreading and causing further damage.

“We recommend using the standard three-cut method to prune branches back to another branch or node,” said Shohn Rodgers, Parks Superintendent. The three-cut method prevents a branch from “ripping” where it’s connected to another branch or the trunk, doing damage to the bark and internal layers of the tree with the weight of its fall. It allows for a neat cut that protects the health of a tree and promotes natural healing of the trimmed area. Sanitary and sharp tools help provide the cleanest cut.

While trimming can help the life of a tree, over-pruning can be detrimental. Regular maintenance by Parks and Recreation crews keep trees in city parks and on city-owned property at their peak.

The department does most of its pruning work on trees and shrubs in the fall and winter months. Trees such as oaks, which can live for several hundred years, are kept looking their best during this time.

“Guidance on pruning oak trees to prevent the spread of oak wilt has changed over the years,” Rodgers said.

“It’s now generally accepted that oak trees shouldn’t be pruned between Valentine’s Day and mid-July, so pruning oaks in the fall and winter is a best practice.”

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Three-Cut Method for Trimming Branches

1 |Make an undercut about one foot from a branch’s “collar” where it joins to another branch or the trunk. Cut one-third of the way through the branch.

2 | About two inches out from the undercut, saw through the branch from above until the branch breaks off.

3 | The break will then allow the branch to be cut cleanly from above, this time about an inch from the collar.

The City’s Brush and Bulky Item Collection (BABIC) service accepts brush, tree trunks and other green waste up to eight feet long and two feet in diameter per piece. Request a pickup online at, by calling 972-744-4111, or by using the MyRichardson app.