How to Prune a Tree: Everyday Pruning Tips

Why tree pruning Is important many homeowners have heard about tree pruning, but there often exists a good deal of confusion about the topic. The practice of pruning is much more than just cutting off branches or limbs from a tree. When done properly, it involves a specific strategy designed to accomplish certain goals. Pruning fosters increased tree health and strong growth, optimizes fruit and flower production and increases the aesthetic appeal of your landscape.

Many homeowners have heard about tree pruning, but there often exists a good deal of confusion about the topic. The practice of pruning is much more than just cutting off branches or limbs from a tree. When done properly, it involves a specific strategy designed to accomplish certain goals. Pruning fosters increased tree health and strong growth, optimizes fruit and flower production and increases the aesthetic appeal of your landscape.

There are some additional reasons to prune the trees on your property including:

  • Create space or clearance
  • Increase sunlight exposure
  • Save a storm damaged tree
  • Avoid harm from weak or dead limbs
  • Improve wind resistance

Tree Pruning Tips

Even though the fundamental purpose of pruning is to maintain the health of a tree, there are several methods that can be utilized to go about the process.

  • Cleaning – Branches that are dead, damaged or diseased are removed to give a tree a more attractive appearance.
  • Thinning – Often used to allow more sunlight to come through a tree, limbs are taken off at their point of origin.
  • Reduction – The purpose of this method is to decrease the height or width of a tree. Reduction is sometimes done to protect utility lines or structures from damage.
  • Subordination Cuts – Utilizing any of the above methods, the goal is to improve or maintain the structural strength and overall health of a tree.
  • Raising – This involves the removal of the lower branches of a tree, allowing more room for vehicles, buildings and people.

When to Prune Your Trees

Exactly when to prune a tree will be based on the goals you are trying to accomplish. While removing dead or diseased branches or limbs can be done at any time of the year, here are some great tips on tree pruning based on season. Keep in mind that these guidelines may differ based on the species of tree, so be sure to check with a professional ahead of time.

  • Winter Pruning – Winter is the dormancy period for many trees and it’s an ideal time to work on their shape. Pruning during the cold months helps foster strong and fast regrowth come spring time. Winter pruning can also give a caretaker a better view of a tree’s overall condition and shape since the foliage is gone.
  • Spring Pruning – Generally speaking, spring pruning can be done, but it has some drawbacks. Pruning at this time of year has the potential to decrease a tree’s bloom ability and can even encourage disease or insect infestation.
  • Summer Pruning – Pruning during the warm months can be done to slow or control the growth of certain branches on a tree. The slowing effect is accomplished by reducing a tree’s total leaf surface, which decreases the amount of food being sent to the root system. Summer is also a good time to determine how certain branches appear with a full weight of leaves on them.
  • Fall Pruning – Unless pruning is done to remove hazardous branches, many tree experts advise against doing it during the fall season. When the weather starts to get colder, trees tend to focus on maintaining the health of their root systems and not as much on branches and limbs. Any cuts made in the fall really don’t have enough time to heal before winter sets in, which can encourage problems. Lastly, since pruning is a way to encourage growth, doing it in the fall really won’t accomplish much, since trees generally don’t grow during this time of year.

There is much more to pruning trees than just cutting off branches and limbs. The experts at Birchwood Services have 25 years of experience in the tree business and can expertly advise you on the best strategies for successful tree pruning if you need assistance. Contact us or learn more about Birchwood’s tree pruning services.

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