Proper Pruning for Prettier, Healthier, Longer-Living Trees
Many homeowners only prune their trees when branches die, or start to intrude into a neighbor’s space. But did you know that even young, growing trees should be regularly pruned to ensure they grow strong and healthy?
With the proper tools and a little knowledge of tree varieties, most homeowners can handle regular pruning duties. Consult with a local certified professional arborist for advice and assistance before attempting any significant trimming or pruning project.
Here are the top reasons to prune:
If a tree is growing too close to a sidewalk, driveway or power line, proper pruning can avoid injuries and prevent costly repairs should those troublesome limbs fall on people or property. Don’t forget your safety, though – if pruning requires excessive climbing and unsteady footing, call a professional for help.
Naturally, we want the trees on our property to look their best. A hearty tree is not only pleasing to the eye, but it can be pleasing to the pocketbook, too. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, more than 80 percent of real estate agents believe that mature trees have a ‘strong or moderate impact’ on the ability to sell a home.
Diseased or storm-damaged branches can impact the long-term health of a tree. Thinning the crown to enable new growth can increase light and air penetration, and develop a heartier trunk with a stable growth pattern. If you prune when a tree is dormant, it will minimize stress to the tree and lower the risk of infestation or fungus.
The older the tree, the more likely it has dead, dying or diseased limbs. Inspect regularly and pare back damaged branches before problems worsen and the tree dies. Young trees should be pruned when a few years old and every five to seven years thereafter.
Choose the Right Tools
For small trees and occasional pruning, you can select from a variety of helpful tools – like hand pruning shears, lopping shears or a pruning saw.
For somewhat larger trees with thicker limbs, you may want to use a small chain saw designed for “recreational users” who do not use it very often. A small saw is more maneuverable than a large one, thus reducing arm or back fatigue that can lead to safety risks.
Either way, you will want to establish a strong trunk with solid, well-spaced branches, by following these pruning tips:
- Make cuts near the trunk, just outside the branch collar
- Don’t cut between buds or branches, which can cause stem decay and impede proper growth
- Maintain a single, dominant leader trunk by removing co-dominant stems that may cause structural weakness as the tree matures
Proper pruning and trimming should be a priority to help ensure that the trees on your property will look great, remain healthy and serve as long-lasting assets to your property.