Tree Pruning

Proper pruning can greatly improve the appearance and safety of trees in your landscape. Below are some tips you may want to follow.

1. When to Prune- It is best to address pruning needs when a tree is young. The cuts will be smaller and will heal more quickly.

2. Reasons to Prune-

A. Pruning should be used to remove dead or diseased wood.

B. Thinning of the crown should be done to improve light penetration and air circulation. The crown can also be raised to give clearance to obstacles. For example, low hanging limbs may be removed that interfere with sidewalk traffic.

C. Proper pruning can eliminate weak branch crotches, leading to a structurally sound tree.

D. Crossing limbs should be removed so that a wound is not created by the frequent rubbing of two limbs. The resulting wound provides an excellent portal for disease pathogens.

3. How to Prune- Height reduction should be accomplished with drop crotch pruning. The photo below illustrates this method. Note: The cut is made at the branch collar.

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"Heading Back" cuts are made at points in between branch crotches. This method leaves short stubs with an unnatural appearance. The stubs are prone to either decay or produce weak sprouts. The following photo illustrates a heading back cut.

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Example of heading back cut Portion of wood likely to die

Pruning large limbs- The weight of the limb often strips away from the bark as it falls. This creates a large wound that must eventually heal over. A "3 Cut Method" will solve this problem.

First- Make a shallow cut on the underside of the limb you wish to remove approximately 12" from the branch collar.

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Second-On top of the limb just beyond the first cut, saw the limb all the way through. The first cut prevents the tearing of additional bark as the limb falls.

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Third-Remove the remaining stub at the branch collar

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Final Note- Avoid removing more than one third of a tree's limbs at one time. Excessive limb removal prohibits photosynthesis and thus the tree's ability to thrive.


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