Landscape Maintenance

Pruned trees are healthy trees (and why it's important to prune)

Pruning trees may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Qualified arborists and tree care professionals can handle the pruning of large, established shade trees. Remember, pruning is important for the health of your trees. It helps them to grow strong and avoid diseases. Done correctly, pruning can also improve the appearance of your trees. So don't be afraid to get started!

Start Pruning Trees Early On
Pruning a tree as soon as it's planted is extremely important. This will help the tree to grow strong and healthy. Removing diseased, dead, or broken branches right away will also prevent any further damage to the tree. Pruning for shape is not necessary until the first winter after planting. However, regular pruning throughout the life of a tree will reduce the amount of work necessary and the stress on the tree. By pruning a tree a little each year, you can create a strong and beautiful tree from the very beginning.

When is the Best Time of Year to Prune Trees?

There is never a bad time to remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches. But most trees benefit from pruning in mid to late winter. Pruning during dormancy encourages new growth as soon as the weather begins to warm. The lack of leaves after autumn allows you to easily identify branches and limbs requiring removal.

Be aware that some trees can bleed sap when pruned during late winter, so it's important to research the best time to prune your specific tree species. I like to make my pruning plan in the fall, but I always wait a few months before I start to prune. Pruning trees in fall can introduce disease. Winter pruning also comes with the added benefit of being able to see the tree's structure more clearly.

Pruning during dormancy also helps protect against shock. Trees are less likely to go into shock when they're not actively growing. So, if you wait until early spring to prune, you run the risk of doing damage that will stun the tree and set back its growth.
There are a few exceptions to the rule of pruning in winter. If you have a tree that is susceptible to bleeding, you'll want to prune it before the sap starts to flow in spring. And if you're dealing with a heavily laden fruit tree, it's best to wait until after the harvest to prune. Otherwise, plan to do your pruning in the late winter months for the best results.

Three Pruning Methods

One way to improve the health of a tree is by pruning it. Pruning involves removing dead or dying branches, as well as branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. This helps to increase air circulation and prevent disease. It also allows more light to reach the inner parts of the tree, which can promote new growth. The three most popular tree pruning methods for pruning are crown raising, crown thinning and crown reduction.

Pruning also helps to remove any dead or dying branches from the tree. This ensures that the tree can continue to grow strong and healthy. Additionally, pruning can help to improve the tree's overall appearance.

 1. Crown Thinning
Crown thinning involves trimming a tree to remove specific live branches to reduce the overall density of the tree. This is the most common type of pruning performed on mature trees, as it increases sunlight penetration and air circulation while also reducing stress on selected limbs from gravity, wind, ice or snow.

To maintain the size and shape of the tree, crown thinning should be consistent throughout. Usually, only 10 to 20 percent of the tree's branches are removed from the edge of the canopy. Large trees especially benefit from removing end portions of limbs between 1 to 4 inches in diameter.

2. Crown Reduction
Crown reduction is a tree pruning method that is generally used on older, more mature trees. It can help strengthen the tree and encourage new growth. Crown reduction removes a tree branch back to a growing lateral branch. When the growing season begins in the spring, this lateral branch will become part of the new tree crown. There are smaller cuts, less of the crown is removed and plenty of old growth remains for structure. While crown thinning is performed to reduce limbs and foliage, the goal of crown reduction is to remove old growth. This can be done for a variety of reasons such as reducing the weight on heavy branches, removing dead or dying branches, or simply improving the appearance of the tree.
If you have an older tree on your property that you would like to keep for many years to come, crown reduction may be a good option for you. This pruning method can help prolong the life of your tree and keep it looking its best. If you have any questions about crown reduction or any other tree pruning methods, please contact a certified arborist for more information.

3. Crown Raising
When it comes to crown raising, it's important to take things slowly and gradually remove branches over time. This tree pruning method is often necessary to clear traffic areas, buildings or views. However, if too many lower branches are removed all at once, it can result in a weak tree. To avoid this, only remove a few limbs that are less than 4 inches in diameter per year.
Additionally, it's helpful to step back periodically and assess the overall balance of the tree. On deciduous trees, the live crown should make up 60 percent of the tree. If the trunk begins to go over 40 percent, the tree could become weakened. Most conifers can be balanced with a live crown of 50 to 70 percent.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your trees remain healthy and strong for many years to come.

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