Tree Care Xperts

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The Importance of Tree Pruning

Tree pruning is a form of maintenance that is critical for the health and longevity of your trees. It reduces wind resistance, improves sunlight penetration and air circulation, helps prevent damage from insects and diseases and enhances overall appearance. When properly conducted, regular pruning can be as beneficial as fertilization or watering. Pruning is often done on mature trees to promote structural integrity and good form, but can be performed on many different species of evergreens, deciduous shrubs, flowering shrubs and even grasses.

Proper pruning can greatly reduce the need  for corrective pruning later in a tree’s life, and will provide a healthy and pleasing landscape display. While pruning is important at any stage, it is especially crucial in young trees to train a stable structure of primary branches. This framework of primary limbs is called the scaffold branches, and should be established while the tree is still growing.

Training a tree to grow in the desired form begins with proper pruning practices at planting time, and continued pruning throughout the first few years of growth. This is because it takes a lot of energy for a tree to produce new wood and will put the branching pattern in place for its adult life. Proper pruning at a young age will also help reduce the risk of future problems such as co-dominant leaders and multi-trunks, excessive lateral branches, or a narrow crotch angle that can create weak joints during stormy weather.

Once the scaffold branches are established, pruning should be focused on reducing height and spread, removing dead or diseased branches, and thinning to increase light penetration to the lower canopy. Thinning is generally done in late winter or early spring while the tree is dormant and will require careful consideration of the tree’s current growth rate and potential for re-growth. tree removal St George  to reduce height or spread should always be accomplished using a reduction cut on an appropriate lateral.

A reduction cut should be made just above a bud, pair of buds or branch lateral with the knife blade held at a 90-degree angle to the limb being pruned. This type of cut is preferred over heading cuts which are made close to the limb and can leave open wounds that are susceptible to insect attack and disease infection.

Some trees such as firs (Abies), spruces (Picea), and some ornamental dogwoods and cherry trees flower on old wood and should be pruned just after they finish blooming in late summer or fall. Other trees that will benefit from pruning during their dormant period include serviceberry (Amelanchier), redbud (Cercis), fringe tree (Chionanthus), dogwood (Cornus), saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana), and crabapple or flowering cherries (Prunus). A final note: when you do prune, make your cuts clean and avoid leaving stubs that may become an entry point for insects or disease. It is best to use a sharp clean tool and remove the stub only after it has closed. The stub should then be rubbed with a tree oil to protect the exposed wound.


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