Don’t be shy about pruning trees and shrubs if you don’t have the knowledge or confidence to make that first cut. Armed with the right tools and techniques, you can improve the health of your plants, keep them tidy, and help them bloom and bear fruit. Tree Soldiers will help you learn the basics so you can prune like a pro in no time.
Pruning trees and shrubs should enhance the natural shape of the plant rather than distort it, unless creative techniques are used like decorative carving or training old plants. If you do not use inappropriate techniques, you can unknowingly harm the health of your plants. And if the plant is severely damaged, it may die.
Timing: Cut trees at the right time. Most trees benefit from dormant pruning during the cold
season: In the case of deciduous trees, dormant pruning makes it easier to shape the tree as the structure of the tree becomes more visible after the leaves have fallen. Pruning deciduous or evergreen trees while they are dormant reduces the amount of sap that flows from the pruning
wound: Do not try to close the wound to stop fluid flow. Trees are healthier because they have the ability to heal themselves.
Topping: Reducing the height of a tree by cutting all its vertical branches to the same height inevitably creates more problems. Pruning trees with toppings may be the only solution if you’re trying to remove overhead wires, but it’s best avoided in other cases. The topping grows a lot of small branches, but it gets weaker and more likely to fall off as it grows. Tree coverings therefore require ongoing maintenance that is ultimately labor intensive.
Tip: If you cut all the side branches to shorten the tree, there will be a lot of new growth at the ends of these branches. Over time, this new growth adds so much weight that many branches break.
Three Ds: Remove dead, damaged and diseased limbs. Limbs are easy to identify. Put it back in the trunk. Storms or high winds can damage limbs by splintering them or tearing them to shreds, leaving them hanging from trees. Cut off branches below the damaged area. Likewise, the diseased limb below the damaged area is amputated.
Internal growth and cross branch: Remove all branches that grow inward or cross each other. These branches not only distort the natural shape of the tree, but also rub against other branches or limbs, creating open wounds that attract insects and disease.
Leave the collar: If you prune a branch back to the trunk, cut just outside the collar, the thicker part of the side of the trunk.
Flowering shrub: Know when to prune so as not to remove growing shoots. In general, most shrubs are pruned after flowering.
Maintenance pruning: To create a shrub shape, prune slightly wider at the bottom than at the top to allow light to reach the lower branches.
Rejuvenating pruning: If the shrub is old or overgrown, prune over three years. In the first year, remove 1/3 of the oldest stems to the ground. In the second year, remove 1/3 of the remaining old stems. And in the third year, the remaining old stems are removed.
Caution: Pruning trees, especially large ones, can be dangerous. If you’re too big or too dangerous to handle, don’t take a chance. Ask the experts at Tree Soldiers for help.