Pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Here are several methods on pruning trees. The image I present here is one where a tree could have been managed and pruned early without the expense of an arborist with climbing gear.
Time Required: 5 minutes - depending on age
- Start with procuring pruning shears or a pruning saw for larger limbs. These tools are necessary to do the job correctly and with the most ease.
- Remove structurally weak and dead limbs first. Pruning off limbs that appear dead or limbs with leaves that look distressed is a must for tree health.
- Make pruning cuts just outside the branch collar and nearly, but not completely, flush to the trunk. This pruning technique provides viable growing branch bark that will improve wound closure.
- Leave most functional limbs on newly planted trees. Pruning for form should start in the second year or third year of the tree's life.
- Prune forked codominate trunks to one dominate trunk. Pruning forked trunks reduce multiple problems including poor form, excessive pruning and health problems.
- Prune all permanent branches up to a desirable first branch height (generally 8 feet at maturity). Remember that urban and yard trees need to have a raised base for access and yard work.
- After several years of a maturing tree, prune branches trying to space 12 to 18 inches apart. Do not do this pruning the first few years but wait for a period of time where the tree is growing rapidly.
- Always think of the biology of a growing tree when pruning. If a permanent branch is to be shortened, prune it back to a lateral branch or bud where an immediate growth response will be initiated and that limits dead wood that increases the possibility of disease.
- It has been found that sealing a wound with a dressing after pruning does not help in the healing process. Do not seal pruning cuts with wound dressing unless for cosmetic purposes.
- A rule-of-thumb for the vertical spacing of permanent branches is pruning back to a distance equal to 3% of the tree's eventual height.
- Trees that are used to screen an unsightly view or provide a wind break may be allowed to branch low to the ground. Most large growing trees in the landscape must eventually be pruned to allow head clearance.
- The goal in training young trees is pruning to establish a strong trunk with sturdy, well-spaced branches.
What You Need:
- pruning shears
- pruning saw