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How to Prune Trees

Why Prune? 

The primary reasons for pruning trees include health, safety, and aesthetics. Additionally, pruning can be used to increase the value of timber and encourage fruit production.

Pruning for Health 

When approaching pruning for the reason of keeping the plant healthy, it involves getting rid of insect-infested or diseased wood, decreasing some pest issues, thinning the crown to increase airflow, and getting rid of rubbing or crossing branches. Pruning can best be used to stimulate trees to develop a strong structure and decrease the probability of causing harm during harsh weather. Eliminating damaged or broken limbs stimulate wound closure.  pruning trees

Pruning for Safety

When pruning for safety, the main reasons are to get rid of branches that could fall causing property damage or injury, trim branches that obstruct lines of sight on driveways or streets, and eliminate branches that extend into utility lines. You can avoid safety pruning by cautiously selecting species that won’t grow further than the area available to them, have form characteristics, and have the strength that is suitable to the site.

Pruning for Aesthetics

Pruning for aesthetics involves boosting the natural character and form of trees or encouraging flower production. Pruning for form is especially vital for open-grown trees that do just a small amount of self-pruning.

How to Prune?

First, prune out dead, broken, or diseased branches and twigs. After determining the tree form, select the best positioned and spaced permanent branches and shorten or remove others on young trees. Permanent branches must be spaced at a distance of 6-24 inches between them on the trunk, based on the eventual mature size of the tree. 

For trees that are small at maturity, 6" spacing is adequate. In contrast, for oaks and other huge shade trees, 18-24" spacing is best. Next, get rid of rapidly growing suckers along the trunks and at their base. In most cases, sprouts along branches must be left unharmed. They generally show a struggling tree trying to grow healthier. Trees must be pruned to one primary stem after determining the best and straightest leader to retain. 

Most shade trees can get larger in this form when they are young. However, the growth habit of a few species will change to a multi-leader growing form as they mature. There must be no narrow branches or forks vacating the trunk at an acute angle. If there are, then decrease their length same as a lateral branch at a minimum of half the diameter of the eliminated stem. Decrease the length of branches and stems with bark inclusions.

Big branches that are very hefty to be carried with the hand (branches that are 1-1/2" or bigger in diameter) need three individual cuts to prevent trunk bark stripping. The first cut is done beneath the branch around 15 inches far from the trunk and as distant through the branch as feasible before the branch weight sticks to the saw. The second cut is made heading down from the peak of the branch some inches from the first cut to cause the limb to break cleanly between the two cuts, not tearing the bark. The leftover stub is effortlessly supported with a single hand when it is cut from the tree. The final cut should start on the exterior of the branch bark ridge and end just at the outer of the trunk collar swelling underneath the branch. This is often achieved by cutting at a right angle to the peak of the branch. In such a manner, just the branch tissue is cut, and it causes no harm to the trunk. 

In old practice, people used to make the last cut flush with the trunk. Research has shown that this causes substantial trunk decay because wood is cut which is in fact part of the trunk. You should not make flush cuts since they harm the trunk. Eliminating branches more than nearly 8 inches in diameter can lead to trunk decay. Rather than consider shortening the branch to half the diameter of the cut similar to a live lateral branch. 

Thinning the Canopy 

Eliminating more than around 10% of alive foliage from a mature tree can give rise to stress on the tree. You can eliminate 1/2-inch to 1-inch diameter stems from the edge of the canopy to thin it. Never clean out the inside of the tree by getting rid of all of the small diameter branches attached to the main trunk and branches. 

Wound Dressing 

It was a standard practice to paint wounds with tree wound dressing. The suggestion was to paint wounds with a good tree wound dressing to shield the cut surface from organisms that rot wood and check (cracking) upon drying. However, research says that wound dressings do not help in preventing decay. 

The protective coating usually cracks upon exposure to the sun, letting moisture enter the cracks and collect in pockets between the wound covering and the wood. This circumstance may be more inviting to organisms that rot wood compared to one without wound cover. However, in cases where beauty is essential, the practice may be valid if a light coat is put on.

Tree pruning is a task for professionals to take on to ensure the safety and health of your property. If you are looking for a landscaping team to maintain your landscape, request an estimate today from our team.