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How To Successfully Prune A Tree

When you purchased your current home, what were the selling points? When you drove up to your home for the very first time, what drew you in?

Buying a new home is a personal decision, many things must be evaluated before the final decision is made. And here in Oregon, the outside of a home carries almost as much weight as the inside. Lucious landscaping adds significantly to the value of a home.tree pruning oregon

Yes, those large trees that sway in the breeze, tower above your home and shade it from the hot summer sun are worth the investment. But to keep them looking their best involves more than simply letting them be. While watering them may occur naturally (thanks to Mother Nature), keeping them healthy and looking their best is up to us. Which means as a homeowner, successfully pruning a tree becomes your responsibility.

It requires more than a saw or pruning shears though. It takes knowledge in knowing how to cut limbs the correct way. Doing it the right way is no more difficult than the wrong way. But what it does take is knowledge and a plan of action.

Pruning a tree the right way will create a strong, healthy tree that is a beautiful addition to your yard. Pruning a tree the wrong way could leave it sickly and lopsided, or in some cases, even dead.

Trees are living, breathing additions to your yard. When trimming thick tree limbs, it’s important to leave the tree intact, not damaging the trunk or the bark, or interfering with the natural healing process.

Deciduous Trees

There are two distinct types of trees – deciduous and evergreen. Trees that shed their leaves annually are classified as deciduous. The above ground part of deciduous trees include:

  • the trunk
  • the scaffold branches, which are the primary limbs that form the tree’s canopy
  • the lateral branches, which contain secondary limbs feeding from the scaffold branches
  • and the leader which is a vertical stem at the top of the trunk.

You’ll also have sucker branches which extend from the trunk or the base of the tree, and water sprout branches that are small in size and occur from pruning sites.

The correct way to prune a tree is to remove damaged wood and eliminate rubbing branches. The sooner you remove rubbing or poorly placed branches, the better it is for the tree.

It’s important to prune a deciduous tree in its beginning phases to eliminate potential problems before they can occur.

Select permanent scaffold branches based on proper angles of attachment to the trunk. Narrow angles signal future weakness. Also, be sure they have plenty of room for growth, at least 10 to 12 inches apart, and that they are arranged outwardly around the trunk.

Train trees to have single leaders to prevent laterals from growing higher than its leader. If a leader is lost due to a storm or disease, replace it by splinting an upper lateral on the highest scaffold branch into its new position. Prune all laterals immediately based on the new leader.

There are two basic cuts, heading and thinning. Heading cuts reduce the height of the tree. They stimulate the growth of buds closest to the cut. Never use heading cuts on branches over one year old. Heading will also disfigure older trees.

Thinning cuts remove branches to their point of attachment. When you prune a branch back to another branch, you are thinning. Thinning stimulates growth throughout the rest of the tree, rather than in single branches.

To avoid splitting wood, make a thinning cut to remove one branch at a time. Instead of removing dead wood only, it’s important to cut into healthy wood well below the affected area. Removing water sprouts and suckers should also be accomplished at the base.

Late winter or early spring is a good time to prune a deciduous tree, right before the bud break, with plenty of time for callus tissue to form and heal the tree. Take care not to cut off flower buds. Summer pruning tends to suppress growth on both suckers and foliage. Late summer and early fall pruning cause energetic regrowth, which in some cases can put new growth at risk in the dead of winter.

Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees have leaves that endure year round. They include conifers and some broad-leaved trees. In general, evergreen trees require less pruning than deciduous trees.

Corrective pruning of evergreen trees consists mainly of removing dead, diseased or damaged branches. To remove properly, cut dead branches back to healthy branches and make thinning cuts into healthy wood well below the infected area.

It’s important to allow evergreen trees to grow to their natural form. Don’t prune into the inactive center where no needles or leaves are attached. New branches will not develop and conceal the stubs. Conifers have dominant leaders, and young trees require training pruning to retain their shape. The leader is a vertical stem at the top of the trunk. If a young tree has two leaders, prune one out to prevent multiple leaders from developing. Selective branch removal is usually unnecessary because of their natural angle attachment to the trunk.

When damage does occur that requires pruning, the best pruning cut is made outside of the branch collar at a 45 to 60-degree angle to the branch bark ridge. The branch bark ridge is a line of bark running from the branch-trunk into the trunk bark.

Because most evergreen pruning is done for corrective reasons, seasonal pruning is generally not an issue. If pruning occurs during dormancy, expect a burst of growth in springtime. Whenever damage occurs, it’s important to prune as quickly as possible to avoid damage from spreading to the rest of the tree. If possible, avoid pruning in late summer or early fall, as the cut may spawn new growth, which can be harmed and damaged by winter cold.

Ready to have your trees successfully pruned for summer? Want to give your trees all they need for healthy living? Using the right tools for the job and pruning a tree in the correct manner will determine the future growth of your tree. Why not let Mr Tree help you with all of your pruning needs. Give us a call today.