Do not trust a stranger with a chainsaw in his hand.

Recently, a friend’s neighbor asked if her tree trimmer could cut a few branches off my friend’s tree. The specific branches were agreed upon, but later my friend discovered more than twice the number were removed. The trimmer’s response was that the neighbor was paying him; the friend told him it was her tree and to stop. The once beautifully shaped tree is no longer an asset to the landscape and will need to be shaped at her expense.

She has lost the value of the tree to the house. Well-designed landscaping is valued at 6-10% of the value of a home depending on location and a number of other factors including age, type of tree, etc.

In addition, the branches were not cut according to accepted tree-trimming practices. Do not saw against the tree but to the outside of the “collar” which joins the branch and trunk. The collar contains special cells that form a protective scab over the cut. Without that collar, the tree will not form protection from insects and disease.

Branches should not be cut parallel to the ground, but at an angle that allows water to run off rather than sitting on the cut. If the branch is torn in cutting or by a storm, cut back into solid wood. A dead branch should be cut into live wood, not just to live, as the branch will continue to die back.

All trees have better times of the year to have their limbs removed than others. Generally, it is best to have the damage corrected as soon as possible.

The good news is that my friend’s 25-year old tree was due to have some interior branches removed to provide more air circulation and strengthen crotches preventing branches breaking in a storm. My friend consulted with her certified arborist who had worked on her landscape for 18 years and determined that all trees would be assessed and worked on as needed this year.


• 15 Minute Gardening — All plants need at least an inch of water each week during the summer, more in drought periods. Keep a rain gauge near outdoor houseplants and record those plants that need watering more or less that week.

• Garden — Cut perennials as they reach their peak to enjoy in the house. Change their water daily and re-cut stems to make it easier for plants to up-take more water.

Do not let weeds go to seed. Pull or dig the attractive ones to add to arrangements. Let daffodil foliage die at least two-thirds of the way back before mowing or cutting to the ground. Order and plant summer bulbs. Fill vacant spots in beds with annuals. Try new colors, combinations and plants. For a dramatic effect, introduce blue (Color of the Year) as the primary color accented with white and pink flowers. Petunia “Surfina” is drought tolerant and late afternoon and evening bring out the fragrance of “Evening Scentsation.” This year is “Wave” petunia’s 25th anniversary.

• Trees and shrubs — Prune lilac blooms to prevent going to seed, which draws energy from the plant that has already bloomed, and unlike other spring bloomers the seed head is not attractive

• Vegetables — Wait until peppers have formed before fertilizing, and lightly fertilize tomatoes before fruit appears. We are getting toward the end of direct seeding beans (green and lima) and transplanting tomatoes. During the season, carefully examine tomatoes for tobacco hornworms. If you see wasp larvae emerging, it is feeding on the worm’s body, not tomato. Put the worm in the garden to protect next year’s plants.

• Event — UK Extension Service horticulture webinar, 1 p.m. each Wednesday. A new subject is offered each week. Go to to register. The free webinar is limited to 300. You may leave before the session is completed.

Contact Carolyn Roof, the Sun’s gardening columnist, at

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