WITH storm season fast approaching now is a good time to look at the trees around your house and in your yard for any limbs or branches that may need pruning.

But what exactly should you be pruning? And how should you do it safely?

We looked at all the advice Arboriculture Australia, the peak national body for professional tree workers and arborists across Australia, has on pruning trees to compile these three tips:

>> READ MORE: PREPARING FOR STORM SEASON

1. What to prune

pruning

Arboriculture Australia recommends pruning to remove dead, diseased or weak limbs. It is these weak or brittle branches that can fall off during a storm causing serious damage.

But it is recommended you do not over prune as over pruned trees can topple in strong winds nor should you ever lop or top your tree.

Arboriculture Australia says the act of ‘topping’- removing the whole top of the tree or branches/trunks leaving stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the role of terminal leader – is considered one of the most harmful tree pruning practices.

Instead of ‘topping’, Arboriculture Australia recommends removing small branches back to their point of origins and for larger limbs that require shortening, they should be pruned back to a lateral branch big enough to assume the terminal role.

Standards Australia has produced an Australian Standard “Pruning of Amenity Trees” AS4373-2007 that provides recommendations on how you perform your tree management.

But if in doubt, seek the opinion of a professional such as a local qualified tree arborist.

>> READ MORE: FIVE HOME MAINTENANCE JOBS TO TACKLE NOW

2. Who should prune

Firstly, Arboriculture Australia says pruning small trees and shrubs is something that you can possibly manage yourself but if in doubt, seek the services of a professional arborist to assist.

For pruning larger trees or trees that need high branches removing, this is a dangerous task that definitely requires an expert and Arboriculture Australia says because this task may involve large, heavy structures, dangerous equipment and working at heights, therefore it must only be undertaken by a competent, qualified and insured arborist.

A professional arborist specialises in the care of trees and can provide advice on trees on your property including determining the type of pruning necessary to make it safe and whether a tree should be removed.

Arboriculture Australia says heavy pruning or removing a tree by an arborist may require a council permit and Mackay Regional Council has these guidelines around tree management.

>> READ MORE: HOW TO GET YOUR POOL SWIM-READY

3. Pruning techniques

pruning

When it comes to pruning small trees and shrubs you can do yourself, safely, here are Arboriculture Australia’s recommended pruning techniques:

Cleaning:

Cleaning is the technique of removing weak, dying, diseased or dead low-vigour branches from a tree’s crown

Thining:

Thinning reduces weight on heavy limbs through the process of selective branch removal.

Raising:

Raising is the removal of lower branches from a tree.

Reduction:

Reduction is the technique of pruning back a tree’s leader or branch terminals to secondary branches large enough to assume the terminal roles to essentially reduce the size of a tree.

If you have any concerns about the stability of branches or a tree on your property, contact a qualified arborist to provide a pre-storm assessment.