Tips for Trimming and Pruning Trees

Do you want to shape your trees to better fit your lawn’s layout? Are you worried about broken limbs and low-hanging branches? These tips will help you prune and trim your trees to get the results you want while maintaining the health of your plants.
Cutting Off Branches
Cutting in stages helps the tree develop a callous over the bare wood. Shortening the branch first takes the weight off of the tree, so you can make a clean final cut.
Start by making a cut half way through the underside of the branch about 18 inches above where the branch meets the trunk. Next, make a cut on the top side of the branch one inch farther from the trunk than your previous cut. The resulting L-shaped cut will remove most of the branch without splitting the wood. Finally, make a 45 degree angle cut against the branch collar. This area has thicker bark than the rest of the branch. The finished cut should sit flush against the collar without a stub sticking out.
Pruning can begin as soon as the tree is planted. During the plant’s first season, pruning should be limited to removing broken or diseased branches. After the first winter, you can start pruning the plant to give it shape. Pruning can be divided into four categories.
Crown thinning: This reduces branch density, which improves air and sunlight penetration. It also takes weight off of long branches. Never remove more than 20% of the branches from the canopy.
Crown reduction: This is like crown thinning, but only lateral branches are removed. This pruning method encourages new growth.
Crown raising: Removing low-hanging limbs makes it easier to walk under the tree. It’s easy to trim too much. The total thickness of low branches should be at least 60% of the trunk width.
Crown cleaning: This is the removal of dead and damaged branches.
When should you prune? It depends on the situation and the type of tree.
– Always remove damaged and diseased branches as soon as possible.
– The best time to trim and shape most trees is in mid to late winter. Once the tree comes out of dormancy, it will recover quickly from the cuts. Don’t worry if the tree leaks sap. This is natural, and won’t harm the tree. The flow of sap will usually stop once the tree starts budding.
– Trimming in late summer after peak growth can be useful for managing branch growth. Removing leaves reduces the amount of sugars the plant is able to generate for growth.
– Tree varieties that bloom early, like apricot and magnolia, are fueled by growth from the previous season. If you trim these plants in the winter, they won’t bloom. Instead, trim these plants right after they bloom in the spring.
– Late blooming trees like dogwood and hawthorn bloom better if they’re trimmed early in the season. This takes some of the nutrient load off of the tree, so it can focus its energies on making flowers for the remaining branches.
Get the Tools You Need for Better Landscaping
Shank’s Lawn Equipment is the best place to get any type of landscaping tool, from groundbreaking implements to mowers. We carry multi-tools, hedge trimmers and chainsaws from most major brands, including Echo, Shindaiwa, Bear Cat and Honda. If you’re looking for tools to help you take care of your trees and shrubs, or you need service for your current equipment, come see us. We’re located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA.
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