How to Trim and Maintain the Cottonwood Trees in Your Home's Backyard

If you recently bought a home that has large cottonwood trees growing in its backyard, then you need to know how to properly trim and maintain them. While cottonwood trees are wonderful for shade and very fast growing, they do tend to shed a lot of litter and require some specific maintenance each year.

Follow these guidelines to maintain the health of your new home's cottonwood trees:

Always Trim Cottonwood Trees during the Winter

Like most tree species, cottonwood trees are dormant during the coldest winter months. This makes the winter season ideal for trimming away any excessive growth.

If you cut the trees outside of their dormant season, then they will be more vulnerable to disease and death from "bleeding" sap. If you have to trim your home's cottonwood trees during a time when they are not dormant, then you must paint the tree wounds with a sealing tar. You can purchase tree sealing tar at your local hardware or home improvement center. Use a putty knife to apply a liberal layer of tar to any open wound areas of the tree.

Remove the Lower Branch Growth Each Year

Cottonwood trees have a tendency to sprout new limbs on their lower trunks each year. If left to their own devices, cottonwood trees will soon look like giant bushes from all of the lower growth that sprouts each year. If you do not trim this excessive growth when it is small, the job will become a lot more labor intensive later. 

When you trim a cottonwood tree, you should leave a small amount of the new branches on the trunk. This helps the tree heal itself more quickly. You should also remove any branches that have grown in a pattern where they rub against each other in storms. This rubbing will damage the tree and can be an entry point for disease.

Use Disinfected Tools on Cottonwood Trees 

Cottonwood trees have very soft wood when compared to trees such as oak or cedar. The softer wood of cottonwoods makes them more susceptible to disease and insect infestation. Additionally, when you trim a cottonwood if your pruners or saw are contaminated, then they can introduce disease into the tree. For this reason, you should always disinfect your tools before trimming a cottonwood tree. You can clean your tools with a solution of household chlorine bleach followed by washing them off with some clean water. For assistance, talk to a professional like Smitty's Tree Service Inc.