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Tree and Shrub Pruning 101: An Interview with Christopher Altman of Trees Company

By Christopher Altman

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a small company of 5 people located in San Francisco. We are trained and certified as arborists so we primarily prune trees. People like us for our knowledge of tree health care and our skills in aesthetic pruning. Occasionally we remove trees and grind out stumps. Sometimes we plant trees and do landscaping. We fully licensed and insured.

What's one of the biggest mistakes that people can make when it comes to pruning their trees and shrubs?

They do it themselves and they don't know about tree health or safety. Not only can they cause damage to the tree, but they can hurt themselves in the process.

Can you briefly describe what pruning is and why it's important?

Pruning is simply cutting for some various reasons. It isn't always necessary. Mostly pruning is done because of what people need, not what a tree needs. People need to have more light for their gardens, restore their view, increase fruit production, have a tree made safer because it is too close to their house, raised up for clearances, or have their tree look a certain way that is more aesthetically appealing.

When should pruning usually be done in Bay Area yards?

Young, vigorous trees can be pruned any time of the year. There are certain rules for more established trees. Pine trees are pruned in the winter to decrease the exposure to bark beetles. Older deciduous trees should not be pruned when the buds are beginning to break in the spring.

What tools do you need to prune a tree/shrub, and what are the basic steps in the process?

You need gloves, hard hat, and safety glasses. We use Felco #2 pruners and 13 inch Samurai Pruning saws that we keep in a scabbard. We normally use a harness and ropes to climb a tree. Sometimes we use an orchard ladder. Working from a ladder is quite dangerous. I recommend working with someone else so that they can hold your ladder. Tools should always be sharp and clean.

Do you have any pruning tips for homeowners in Bay Area?

Call an arborist. Would you fix your own roof? Would you install your own solar panels? Would you remodel your own kitchen?

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

  • Email.
  • text: 415.786.0464
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    About The Author

    Christopher graduated from Bowdoin College with a Bachelor's degree in studio art....

    Phone: 415-786-0464

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