How To Prune Trees
When it comes to maintaining your trees, pruning is the best way to go. You can’t just let your trees be, assuming that just like trees in the forest grow well without human assistance, yours will too. Landscape trees must be maintained to ensure they always look pleasant to the eye and to keep their structural integrity, too. You don’t just prune it the way you like it. A professional pruner must be familiar with tree biology in order to do it right. A novice may end up inflicting damage to the tree or shorten its life with improper tree pruning.
Why Tree Pruning Is Necessary
Make sure you understand very well why and how a branch should be cut since every cut can change the direction a tree grows. Here are the reasons for pruning:
- Get rid of dead branches
- Improve the overall form and structure
- Increase light and air penetration
- Corrective or preventive measure or to reduce risks
When to Prune
The goal of regular pruning is to get rid of weak, sick, or dead leaves or branches. You can do this on any day of the year without affecting the growth and state of the tree. However, as a general rule, it is best to do routine pruning prior to spring to enhance wound closure and tree growth.
If you aren’t aware yet, there are certain tree diseases like the oak wilt where pathogens (or disease-causing organisms) spread when wounds are pruned. As much as possible, refrain from pruning vulnerable trees in times of active transmission.
Trees can grow safely, healthy, and attractively when you use different types of pruning in growing them.
- Cleaning – is the type of pruning used when getting rid of weak, sick, or dying branches from the tree’s crown
- Thinning – is a selective process of removing a branch in order to boost light penetration and the movement of the air to the tree’s crown as well as improve the tree’s structure
- Raising – is the process of getting rid of the tree’s lower branches to keep them from blocking the way, other people, vehicles, or buildings.
- Reducing – is often aimed at enhancing utility line clearance by reducing the tree size. It can either be by reducing the height or width of a tree. How is it done? Prune big enough from the leader and branch terminals to the secondary branches in order to take over the terminal roles. Take note that the pruning should be a third of the cut stem at the very least. The tree can maintain its structural integrity and form using the reducing method rather than by topping it.
Pruning Young Trees
In order to grow a tree with a desirable form and a strong structure, observing proper pruning techniques is a must. You won’t need to make any corrective measures when the trees mature if proper pruning measures were already done while the tree is still young.
While the tree is still young, it is a must to establish a sound structure of the primary branches otherwise known as scaffold branches and they very well make up the tree’s framework. You can expect a tree to grow a sound and stable structure when corrective pruning was done as early as possible. It is fairly easy to do so among young trees. Just ensure you keep one dominant leader growing upward. Refrain from pruning the back of this leader or let secondary leader dominate the main one.
Why should palms be pruned? Here are the reasons why:
- Get rid of sick or dead fronds
- Flowering or inflorescence
- And fruiting clusters especially with coconuts that is a safety risk to their surroundings
Pruning palms are best done twice a year. In the case of coconuts, it can be done every 3-4 months for safety reasons. When getting rid of fronds, be cautious so as not to damage the trunk or the terminal bud.
Keep the green fronds safely intact. Pests are actually attracted to palms that are over-pruned and they grow slowly too. Avoid using climbing spikes when going up the palm tree because it actually injures the tree trunk.
Never Top Trees
It is a big NO-NO to top trees. It is also arguably the most harmful tree practice known to man. Unfortunately, it is still widely practiced by many even if it has been told and shared time and again just how destructive this practice is.
So, just what is topping? It is basically the cutting of stubs or lateral branches that aren’t big enough without regards to the tree branch thinking that it can assume the terminal role because it can’t. Topping is also dubbed as:
- Rounding over
For reasons such as utility line clearance, it may be necessary to reduce the tree’s size in height or in spread. There are a lot of ways to do it. The important thing is that you have to cut the smaller branches back to their point of origin. When it comes to a bigger branch, prune it to a big enough lateral branch (at least 1/3 of the diameter of the branch being cut or pruned) so that it can assume the terminal role. The tree will be able to preserve its natural form using the reduction method.
Meanwhile, there is a small chance of a tree being able to close over a pruned part and compartmentalize its wound if you make big cuts to its branches. When that happens, you are better off by removing the tree itself and planting a more appropriate plant or tree in its wake.