Proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong
structure and desirable form. Trees that receive the appropriate
pruning measures while they are young will require little
corrective pruning when they mature.
Keep these few simple principles in mind before pruning a tree:
- Each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree.
Always have a purpose in mind before making a cut.
- Proper technique is essential. Poor pruning can cause damage
that lasts for the life of the tree. Learn where and how to make
the cuts before picking up the pruning shears.
- Trees do not heal the way people do. When a tree is wounded, it
must grow over and compartmentalize the wound. As a result, the
wound is contained within the tree forever.
- Small cuts do less damage to the tree than large cuts. For that
reason, proper pruning (training) of young trees is critical.
Waiting to prune a tree until it is mature can create the need
for large cuts that the tree cannot easily close.
Making The Cut
Where you make a pruning cut is critical to a tree’s response in
growth and wound closure. Make pruning cuts just outside the
branch collar. Because the branch collar contains trunk or
parent branch tissues, the tree will be damaged unnecessarily if
you remove or damage it. In fact, if the cut is large, the tree
may suffer permanent internal decay from an improper pruning
If a permanent branch is to be shortened, cut it back to a
lateral branch or bud. Internodal cuts, or cuts made between
buds or branches, may lead to stem decay, sprout production, and
When pruning trees, it is important to have the right tool for
the job. For small trees, most of the cuts can be made
pruning shears (secateurs). The scissor-type, or bypass blade
hand pruners, are preferred over the anvil type. They make
cleaner, more accurate cuts. Cuts larger than one-half inch in
diameter should be made with lopping shears or a pruning saw.
Never use hedge shears to prune a tree. Whatever tool you use,
make sure it is kept clean and sharp.
Establishing a Strong Scaffold Structure
A good structure of primary scaffold branches should be
established while the tree is young. The scaffold branches
provide the framework of the mature tree. Properly trained young
trees will develop a strong structure that requires less
corrective pruning as they mature.
The goal in training young trees is to establish a strong trunk
with sturdy, well-spaced branches. The strength of the branch
structure depends on the relative sizes of the branches, the
branch angles, and the spacing of the limbs. Naturally, those
factors vary with the growth habit of the tree. Pin oaks and
sweetgums, for example, have a conical shape with a central
leader. Elms and live oaks are often wide-spreading without a
central leader. Other trees, such as lindens and Bradford pears,
are densely branched. Good pruning techniques remove
structurally weak branches while maintaining the natural form of
For most young trees, maintain a single dominant leader. Do not
prune back the tip of this leader. Do not allow secondary
branches to outgrow the leader. Sometimes a tree will develop
double leaders known as co-dominant stems. Co-dominant stems can
lead to structural weaknesses, so it is best to remove one of
the stems while the tree is young.
The lateral branches contribute to the development of a sturdy
well-tapered trunk. It is important to leave some of these
lateral branches in place, even though they may
be pruned out
later. These branches, known as temporary branches, also help
protect the trunk from sun and mechanical injury. Temporary
branches should be kept short enough not to be an obstruction or
compete with selected permanent branches.
Permanent Branch Selection
Nursery trees often have low branches that may make the tree
appear well-proportioned when young, but low branches are seldom
appropriate for large-growing trees in an urban environment. How
a young tree is trained depends on its primary function in the
landscape. replica watches
For example, street trees must be pruned so that they
allow at least 16 feet of clearance for traffic. Most landscape
trees require only about 8 feet of clearance.
The height of the lowest permanent branch is determined by the
tree’s intended function and location in the landscape. 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 spacing of branches, both vertically and radially, in the
tree is very important. Branches selected as permanent scaffold
branches must be well-spaced along the trunk. Maintain radial
balance with branches growing outward in each direction.
A good rule of thumb for the vertical spacing of permanent
branches is to maintain a distance equal to 3 percent of the
tree’s eventual height. hublot replica uk
Thus, a tree that will be 50 feet tall
should have permanent scaffold branches spaced about 18 inches
apart along the trunk. Avoid allowing two scaffold branches to
arise one above the other on the same side of the tree.
Some trees have a tendency to develop branches with narrow
angles of attachment and tight crotches. As the tree grows, bark
can become enclosed deep within the crotch between the branch
and the trunk. Such growth is called included bark. Included
bark weakens the attachment of the branch to the trunk and can
lead to branch failure when the tree matures. You should prune
branches with weak attachments while they are young.
Avoid overthinning the interior of the tree. tag heuer replica
The leaves of each
branch must manufacture enough food to keep that branch alive
and growing. In addition, each branch must contribute food to
grow and feed the trunk and roots. Removal of too many leaves
can “starve” the tree, reduce growth, and make the tree
unhealthy. A good rule of thumb is to maintain at least half the
foliage on branches arising in the lower two-thirds of the tree.
Newly Planted Trees
Pruning of newly planted trees should be limited to corrective
pruning. Remove torn or broken branches, and save other pruning
measures for the second or third year.
The belief that trees should be pruned when planted to
compensate for root loss is misguided. Trees need their leaves
and shoot tips to provide food and the substances that stimulate
new root production. Unpruned trees establish faster with a
stronger root system than trees pruned at the time of planting.
Wound dressings were once thought to accelerate wound closure,
protect against insects and diseases, and reduce decay.
However, research has shown that dressings do not reduce decay
or speed closure and rarely prevent insect or disease
infestations. Most experts recommend that wound dressing not be
used. If a dressing must be used for cosmetic purposes, use a
thin coating of a material that is not toxic to the plant.