If you need to have trees around your home trimmed, you probably have a general idea of what you want them to look like once the job is complete. But can you convey the vision that is in your head to the contractor that will be doing the job? While you may understand the difference between cutting, topping, and crowning, will you understand what your contractor is talking about when they start discussing terms such as sculpting, wind-sailing, lacing, or lion tailing? Here are a few of the less commonly used terms defined. Hopefully this will help to get you and your contractor on the same page. 

Sculpting - If you have ever been to an amusement park and admired the trees that have been made into a wide array of animals, or admired the topiaries in a formal garden, you have been exposed to tree sculpting. This is a practice done primarily with evergreen trees, shrubs, or other types of dense foliage plants that allow you to trim them to grow into a certain shape. Although this process is something that you can do yourself, it is not as easy as it looks, and the finished product may take a couple of seasons to look exactly like you want it to. 

Wind Sailing - Most people have watched the wind blow through large trees and witnessed the trees gently sway in the wind. Unfortunately, very strong winds can often bring down these large limbs or bring the tree down altogether. Wind sailing, or wind sailing reduction is a concept that teaches that by selectively removing or thinning upper tree limbs, the wind would be able to move more safely through the trees with less resistance. This would hopefully reduce the chances of the large limbs or trees coming down. 

Unfortunately, although this may sound like a reasonable concept, wind sailing does not always work that way. By allowing your trees the ability to bend and react to the wind, your trees naturally add wood to their weakened areas, as well as strengthen their roots. Aggressive wind sailing not only reduces your tree's ability to do this, but it could also expose your tree to stress, disease, and insect damage.

Lacing - Lacing is a pruning concept in which you thin out the canopy of your tree in an effort to improve the amount of air and light that is available to the tree, as well as any plants that may be below the tree. When done right, lacing can improve the safety, health, and appearance of your trees. This is a great way to remove diseased, damaged, or insect infested growth from your trees.

Lion Tailing - If your trees are not properly thinned, too many branches from the interior of your tree's crown could be removed, which leaves the majority of your tree's foliage at the tips of the limbs and branches. This process is referred to as lion tailing, over-lifting, or over thinning. Once this is done, your tree limbs resemble the long, slender tail of a lion with a little puff of foliage at the end and are greatly damaged. The overall remaining shape of your tree often resembles a large umbrella.

Lion tailing will cause the crown of your trees to become unbalanced and can shift the center of gravity of your trees higher. This in turn will make your trees look funny and be more prone to breakage during high winds due to the excessive weight on the branch ends. It can also affect the future growth of your trees by removing too much of the foliage that is needed to collect food and energy for growth.

The best way to ensure that your trees are properly trimmed is to enlist the services of a professional tree trimming service. Look for a company that has access to a professional arborist, or who has one on staff. They will be able to help take the vision that you have in your head for your trees and make it into a reality, all while keeping your trees healthy for years to come.

For more information and options, talk with a professional tree trimming service, such as Northern Virginia Tree Experts, Inc..

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