5 Tips For Pruning and Trimming Trees

Whether you have shade trees, fruit trees, or ornamental trees, knowing when to prune is key. Pruning keeps your tree healthy, improves its overall shape and appearance, and bolsters fruit production.

Storm damage, irregular growth patterns, and specific landscape needs can all create unique tree pruning challenges. Here are five tips to help you tackle these situations successfully:

1. Keep It Simple

Pruning and trimming your trees is an important part of maintaining a healthy landscape. By removing dead, diseased or insect-infected branches, you are promoting the development of new, healthy growth.

Often pruning can be a bit confusing, but by keeping it simple you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of proper tree care. This includes increased health and aesthetics, as well as a longer life for your investment.

In general, it’s best to keep the central leader of a tree pruned only when necessary to eliminate competing branches and remove any extra vigorous shoots. If you choose to prune the central leader of your tree, always cut at an angle that slants down away from the trunk or main stem so water and nutrients don’t collect on the wound.

Suckers and water sprouts at the ground level drain a tree’s energy and steal nutrients from the roots or trunk, so it’s vital to keep them under control. They can also cause damage to nearby plants or infrastructure, so it’s essential to get rid of them as soon as they appear.

Another tip to keep in mind is that if you’re pruning your shrubs or hedges, it’s best to wait until they have finished flowering before making any pruning cuts. This will avoid removing flower buds that might reduce your enjoyment of the flowers the following spring.

By using these 5 tips, you can easily learn to prune and trim your trees correctly without stressing the plant. By taking the time to learn what’s right for your landscape you can increase the health and beauty of your trees and make your garden more enjoyable. You can also save yourself a ton of money by learning how to prune trees and shrubs the correct way.

2. Be Patient

Pruning and trimming trees can be an intimidating task, but with a little patience, you’ll be able to make the process a success. If done correctly, it can lead to a healthier tree with more structure and less risk of disease, insect infestation, and fungi.

The goal of pruning is to remove dead or unproductive wood in order to promote the growth of new branches, twigs and buds that will produce fruit or contribute to the overall beauty and health of the tree. A well-trimmed tree will have a more balanced shape, and it will be more resistant to disease, insect infestation and fungi for the rest of its life.

A poorly trimmed tree will be more likely to fall during strong winds or heavy rains. It can also be more susceptible to damage from insects and disease, especially if it is too big for the space around it.

To avoid these issues, keep the tree limbs as short as possible and remove crossing or rubbing branches. These rubbing branches result in tearing and rubbing of bark and limbs, increasing the risk of disease and pests.

Another tip is to keep crotches narrow. These are when 2 branches meet at an angle of less than 45 degrees from each other, which can cause cracks in the bark and reduce the strength of the trunk.

When trimming, make a clean cut close enough to the bud not to leave a clumsy stub but far enough to allow the branch to grow back healthy. Don’t cut into the stem collar, which will cause watersprouts and slow healing.

The best time to prune most trees is in the winter. This allows the tree to recover from the previous season’s stress and minimizes sap loss. This is particularly important for shade trees like ash, oak and birch.

3. Keep It Clean

Trees are essential to the beauty of your home’s landscape and need regular care and maintenance. This includes pruning and trimming. Both of these techniques are effective in maintaining the health and beauty of your trees.

If done incorrectly, pruning and trimming can lead to serious damage or death of your trees. However, if you do it correctly, this can help stimulate new growth and keep your trees healthy and strong.

It can also help prevent pests and diseases from entering your property. This is particularly important for fruit trees that can attract a variety of insects, including tent worms and aphids.

You can safely prune and trim most of your garden trees and shrubs yourself, but it is best to leave large shade trees to a qualified arborist or professional tree service company. This is because they have the tools and experience necessary to safely remove branches while avoiding injury or harm.

Before and after pruning, sterilize your pruning equipment with rubbing alcohol to kill disease-causing microbes. Oil your equipment regularly to prevent rusting.

Besides promoting new growth, pruning and trimming trees and shrubs can increase flower production and optimize fruit yields. It also reduces the risk of damage from falling branches, and increases the safety of your property by removing weak or dangerous limbs.

Pruning is a common practice in landscaping to shape trees and shrubs, create pleasing shapes, improve air circulation and to control growth patterns. It can also be used to eliminate unwanted twigs and roots for more uniformity in the appearance of your plants.

Pruning can be a very involved process, so it is important to choose the right time and techniques for your specific trees and shrubs. If you’re not sure which method is right for your trees, a professional tree care expert can help guide you.

4. Don’t Overdo It

Pruning and trimming trees can be a great way to encourage new growth, promote flowers and fruit production, help prevent disease, or simply enhance the appearance of a landscape. However, it’s important to not overdo it if you don’t have to because doing too much can actually harm a tree.

For example, removing too many branches all at once can starve a tree of its nutrients, which can lead to sunscald, and it can also hurt a tree’s growth and make it more susceptible to damage from winter weather.

In addition, pruning too aggressively can permanently damage a tree. To avoid this, it’s best to prune only what you can safely reach and remove only damaged or dead branches.

If you are unsure of the correct way to prune a tree, it’s a good idea to hire a professional. A Certified Arborist can help you understand the appropriate size and shape of the tree, and ensure that any cuts are done correctly.

A common mistake that homeowners make is to over-prune a tree. This can cause stress and lead to bad branch growth, which is known as suckers.

Suckers are weak, weed-like branches that grow at the base of a tree and steal energy from it. To avoid this, be sure to remove any suckers that have started forming.

It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on your tree over the course of the year. This can help you identify any potential problems, which will be easier to remedy when they’re still small and easy to spot.

The best time to prune a tree is usually during dormancy. This is because removing branches during this period lowers the risk of pest infestation and disease in open cut wounds.

5. Don’t Stress

When pruning and trimming trees, it’s important to keep stress to a minimum. This will ensure the health of your trees and help them survive and grow to their fullest potential.

A stressed tree will show symptoms of stress in a number of ways, such as missing or distorted growth, substances or spots on the foliage, or lack of vigor. If you notice any of these issues on your trees, it’s best to take steps to correct them before they become serious problems. Call Action Tree as soon as you’re able to in order to have your trees assessed.

If you see that your trees are forming suckers, which are weak, weedy looking branches at the base of the trunk, it’s time to remove them. These weak growths only steal energy from the main tree and weaken its structure.

Another issue to look out for is a common practice called “topping.” This is when a tree is cut back so drastically that it loses one or more of its main structural branches – the trunk. Topping can make your trees appear lopsided or misshapen, and will often leave them with a lot of water sprouts that grow at the ends of their branches and along their length.

Topping also encourages your trees to grow more than they should, which will result in overly large or crooked trees. The only way to avoid this problem is by ensuring that your trees are properly pruned and trimmed in the first place.

A good rule of thumb is to never prune a tree more than a third of its branches at any one time. This is especially important if you are trying to maintain the shape of a mature tree. Taking too many big cuts at once can lead to severe damage and disposal issues, not to mention the loss of valuable tree tissue that could have been saved with more careful pruning.