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How To Guide To Tree Pruning

Under optimal conditions trees can grow quite naturally with good form without the need for tree pruning. However, for various reasons, pruning can become an essential part of tree care. It involves selectively removing branches to improve the tree's health, shape, and structure. Proper pruning can help prevent diseases, improve the tree's appearance, and make your outdoor spaces safer. Here, we'll discuss the reasons for pruning and provide tips on how to prune trees effectively.


Reasons for Tree Pruning

There are several reasons why you might want to prune your trees regularly. Here are some of the most important ones:


  • Promotes Growth and Health: Pruning helps stimulate new growth and improves the overall health of the tree. By removing dead, damaged or diseased branches, you reduce the risk of pests and diseases that can harm the tree. Pruning also allows more sunlight and air to reach the remaining branches, which can help them grow stronger and healthier.

  • Enhances Appearance: Pruning can help improve the tree's appearance by selectively removing unwanted branches or shaping it into a more aesthetically pleasing form. Sometimes branches cross or rub against each other, by removing these you can prevent damage and improve the tree's overall structure.

  • Increases Yield: Pruning fruit trees can increase their yield by removing old or unproductive branches and encouraging new growth. This can result in larger, healthier fruit that is easier to harvest.


Pruning for Healthy Trees

Pruning for healthy trees involves focussing on dead, dying, damaged, diseased and crossed branches. This encourages healthy growth of the tree. By opening up the canopy, more light can pass through, which promotes more foliage and reduces the risk of disease.


As well as the canopy, you should look towards the ground level.Suckers and water sprouts should be removed and these steal nutrients and can weaken the wood.


Pruning for Safer Spaces

Healthy trees are generally safer trees. Removing dead and dangerous branches improves the safety as well as the health of the tree, however it is good practice to also inspect your tree with other safety risks in mind. For example, are any parts of the tree getting too close to electrical wires or nearby structures? It is always a good idea to maintain clearance, so if any high traffic or football areas are obstructed, the branches should be trimmed back to be made safe.


In some areas susceptible to very high winds it can help to thin out the branches to prevent the tree becoming too top heavy and at risk of failure in severe storms.


When to Prune Trees

The best time to prune trees depends on the species and the reason for pruning. Here are some general guidelines:


  • Pruning During Dormant Season: Most trees are best pruned during their dormant season, which is usually in late winter or early spring. Pruning during this time minimises stress on the tree and reduces the risk of disease and pest infestations.

  • Pruning During Growing Season: Some trees, such as flowering trees, should be pruned after they bloom in the spring or summer. This allows you to see which branches are dead or damaged and which ones need to be removed.

  • Pruning for Hazard Reduction: If you need to prune trees for safety reasons, such as removing hazardous branches, you can do so at any time of the year.


For more detailed information on the best time to prune trees, take a look at our article on this topic.


How to Prune Trees

If the tree is small, you might feel up to the task of pruning the tree yourself, however for larger trees where you would be working at height we would recommend calling a professional to carry out the work to ensure it is carried out safely and effectively.


  • Step 1: Identify the Branches to Be Pruned: Identify the branches that need to be removed. Look for dead, diseased, or damaged branches, as well as those that are crossing or rubbing against each other.

  • Step 2: Use the Right Tools: Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Use sharp, clean pruning shears for small branches and a pruning saw for larger ones. Be sure to sterilize your tools between cuts to prevent the spread of disease.

  • Step 3: Make Clean Cuts: When pruning, make clean cuts close to the trunk or main branch. Avoid leaving stubs, as they can attract pests and diseases.

  • Step 4: Prune for Structure: When pruning for structure, remove branches that are growing in the wrong direction or are too close together. This will help the tree grow in a healthy and balanced way.

  • Step 5: Prune for Aesthetics: When pruning for aesthetics, shape the tree into a desirable form. This can involve removing branches that are obstructing the view or are detracting from the tree's overall appearance.

  • Step 6: Prune for Safety: When pruning for safety, remove branches that are hanging over your house, power lines, or other structures. Also, maintain clearance around walkways, driveways, and other high-traffic areas.


Pruning/Tree Trimming Tools

Having the right tools for pruning and tree trimming is essential for a successful job. Here are some of the most common tools used for pruning:


Tree surgeon pruning a tree using a rope and harness
  • Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are used for cutting small branches and twigs. They come in different sizes and types, including bypass and anvil pruners.

  • Loppers: Loppers are used for cutting thicker branches that are too big for pruning shears. They have longer handles and can cut branches up to 2 inches in diameter.

  • Pruning Saws: Pruning saws are used for cutting larger branches and limbs. They come in different sizes and types, including hand saws and pole saws.

  • Pole Saw: Pole saws are used for cutting branches that are too high to reach. They have a long pole with a pruning saw or shears attached to the end.


Proper Pruning Techniques

Proper pruning techniques are essential for the health and safety of your trees. Here are some tips for pruning trees properly:


  • Make Clean Cuts: Make clean cuts close to the trunk or main branch. Avoid leaving stubs, as they can attract pests and diseases.

  • Prune at the Right Time: Prune trees during their dormant season, usually in late winter or early spring. This minimises stress on the tree and reduces the risk of disease and pest infestations.

  • Prune for Structure: Remove branches that are growing in the wrong direction or are too close together. This will help the tree grow in a healthy and balanced way.

  • Prune for Aesthetics: Shape the tree into a desirable form by removing branches that are obstructing the view or are detracting from the tree's overall appearance.

  • Prune for Safety: Remove branches that are hanging over your house, power lines, or other structures. Also, maintain clearance around walkways, driveways, and other high-traffic areas.

  • Pruning Tree Limbs and Branches: Pruning tree limbs and branches can be a challenging task. Here are some tips for pruning tree limbs and branches safely:

  • Assess the Situation: Assess the situation before pruning. Determine the size and location of the branch, as well as the direction it will fall.

  • Use the Right Tools: Use the right tools for the job, including pruning saws, loppers, and pole pruners.

Tree Pruning Tips

Here are some additional tips for pruning trees:

  • Prune young trees to establish good structure and shape.

  • Don't remove more than 25% of a tree's foliage in one year.

  • Don't prune trees during their active growing season.

  • Don't top or lop trees, as this can result in weak growth and structural problems.

  • Don't paint or seal pruning cuts, as this can actually slow down the healing process.

  • Don't remove more than one-third of a branch's length when pruning.

  • Don't prune trees that are close to power lines. Hire a professional tree service to do this.

  • Always wear protective gear, such as gloves and eye protection, when pruning trees.

Most importantly, consult a certified arborist if you're unsure about how to prune your trees properly.


Conclusion

Pruning trees is an important part of tree care that can improve the health, appearance, and safety of your outdoor spaces. By following these tips and techniques, you can prune your trees effectively and ensure their long-term health and vitality. Remember to always use the right tools, make clean cuts, and prune for the right reasons to keep your trees healthy and beautiful for years to come.


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