Gardening 101

A Beginner’s Guide To Tree Pruning

Tree pruning

Once you understand the general concepts involved in pruning and trimming trees, you can usually handle most pruning projects around your property on your own.

Through regular pruning, you can keep your trees healthier while at the same time helping them look their best. Getting good results not only requires a lot of knowledge but it also takes special equipment. Once you understand the process, however, you can use your knowledge to improve the health of your trees, to make them look nicer, and to deal with potential safety issues like dead branches.

Even though there are a lot of advanced methods that you can use to prune trees, mastering the basics is usually more than adequate for most residential pruning projects. If you prefer, you can also hire a professional tree trimming company to take care of your property. Either way, the tips in the following section can help.

The Benefits Of Pruning Or Trimming Trees

There are three basic reasons why trees require pruning. These include maintaining the health of the tree, improving safety, and helping the tree look its best.

Appearance – Pruning allows you to control the way that a tree looks by keeping it in a natural, balanced shape. Don’t make the mistake of trimming a tree into a shape that you wouldn’t find in nature. That usually requires far too much pruning, which could leave the tree damaged.

Improving Safety – Trees with broken branches are dangerous since the branches could break and fall without warning. Another safety issue associated with trees is poor visibility. If the branches stick out too far, they may limit your view when you are backing out of your driveway or performing other driving maneuvers. In some cases, tree branches can also interfere with nearby power lines. Always call your power company to deal with these problems rather than trying to handle them on your own.

Maintaining tree health – if trees become diseased or infected, you may be able to save them by cutting away the areas that are affected. Tree pruning for proper growth can help to revive a tree. Removing branches from the crown of the tree can result in better airflow, helping the rest of the tree thrive. Cutting away branches that are rubbing together or that cross one another can also help prevent problems as the tree grows.

Basic Tips For Pruning Trees

In most cases, the best time of the year to prune a tree is when it is dormant. Although pine trees can technically be trimmed during any season, it is best to prune them during the dormant season, as well. The only time that you should trim a tree when it is not dormant is if it is creating a safety issue.

Always consider the size of the branch before deciding whether or not you want to get rid of it. Branches that measure under 5 cm across are safe to remove. With larger branches that fall in the 5 to 10 cm range, you should give careful thought to whether or not the branch really needs to be cut off before removing it. Branches measuring over 10 cm across, on the other hand, should only be removed if they are creating a safety issue or if there is some other valid reason to get rid of them.

When deciding which branches to remove, look at the angle that they make with the trunk of the tree. Branches that end in a narrow V-shape are weaker than branches that connect to the tree with a U-shape. If you have a choice, that means that you should always remove V-shaped branches rather than U-shaped branches to retain the strength of the tree.

Any branches that extend laterally should measure anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of the diameter of the trunk at the area where they are attached. If they are any smaller than that, you should cut them off.

The goal of pruning is to create a crown height that is approximately 2/3 of the overall height of the tree.

It is always best to be proactive with pruning, cutting off unnecessary branches before they have a chance to grow too large. Removing branches when they are small minimizes the risk of scarring.

Trim branches to the proper length. Don’t cut into the branch collar. Alternatively, don’t leave an obvious stub or stem.

Tips For Trimming Trees

The strategies outlined below will help you prune a tree like a pro. Reading through them is a great way to learn more about how to properly trim and care for trees.

Thinning The Crown

The tips below will help you thin the crown of a tree:

– Pay attention to the spacing on lateral branches, keeping the spacing as consistent as you can.

– Cut off any branches that rub against other branches or cross over them.

– Avoid cutting off more than a quarter of a tree’s crown at the same time. If more of the tree needs to be removed, complete the process over multiple years.

Raising The Crown

Branches that are growing too close to the ground can restrict clearance around the tree. In order to raise the crown, you just need to cut away branches at the base of the tree. Make sure that the remaining crown measures a minimum of two-thirds of the overall height of the tree. If you cut away too many of the lower branches, the tree may struggle to develop a strong trunk.

Reducing The Crown

If over half of a branch’s foliage needs to be removed, you should cut off the entire branch.

Crown reduction should only be performed if it is absolutely necessary. Remove any branches that extend laterally as long as they are a minimum of one-third of the diameter of the stem that needs to be removed.

Techniques For Tree Pruning

These techniques will help you prune your trees like a pro:

– Inspect the branch collar prior to cutting the branch. The collar extends from the stem at the point where the branch connects. The branch ridge can be found on the top side of the branch. It runs parallel to the angle of the branch where it connects to the stem.

– Place your cuts on the outside of the bark ridge, cutting at a downward angle away from the trunk or stem. Use caution so that you don’t damage the branch collar.

– Don’t alter your pruning technique for living or dead branches – cut them both the same way.

For long stems, use a three-step cutting method. Start by notching the stem on the opposite side of the branch that is being kept. Next, cut above the branch ridge inside the branch’s crotch. Finish the process with a third cut that runs parallel to the bark ridge of the branch. This cut should remove the stub.

Using these tips, you should be able to effectively prune your trees, keeping them healthy, safe, and attractive.

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