Reasons to Prune
To make your tree look a certain way
Branches are overgrown
The tree is getting too big for your liking
To give your tree better circulation
The tree is obstructing something
When You Should Prune
It is best to prune your tree in either the winter or summer. Pruning after the coldest part of the winter has passed is the most common time to prune. Trimming during the tree’s dormancy allows for a very fertile spring. Pruning in the summer after your tree’s seasonal growth is over, is also an option if you aren’t a fan of the cold. Cutting the tree at this time will slow down the trees growth by decreasing the amount of leaf surface on the branch. This is also a great time to get rid of obstructions while catching some rays. Which ever season you chose to prune, never prune in the fall. In the fall your tree won’t heal at a normal speed and there are decaying fungi spreading spores. Those are not optimal pruning conditions.
If you are pruning a small tree a small or medium bypass lopper will do the trick. For high branches use a long reach pruner. For bigger branches use folding saws, pruning saws, and the big ol’ chainsaw. If the tree is very large it is best to have a professional do the pruning for you. You don’t want to injure yourself or have a branch land on your house!
How To Prune
Before you start clipping away take a second to look at your tree and identify the main branches. The main branches shouldn’t be pruned. As your pruning the branches you want to make sure you aren’t hurting the trunk of the tree. When trimming, try to make the cut at a lateral bud or branch, as seen in the picture:
It is important to note the correct angle of the cut as well. When you are cutting bigger branches three cuts are needed. The first cut should be under the branch and half way into the branch to prevent hurting the trunk. The second cut will be where you want to cut the branch, start from the top of the branch down. The last cut is close to the stem but still on the branch side. Here is an illustration to help:
How Much To Prune
You don’t want your tree to go bald! So how much is enough when it comes to pruning? You should never prune more than ¼ of your tree’s crown during a single season. The tree’s branches should make up at least ⅔ of your tree’s height. Over pruning can harm the tree by reducing it’s protection from the elements and decreasing its’ circulation.
Things to Keep in Mind
Different trees can require different types of pruning. Fruit trees, like apple trees, have a different type of pruning. Shrubs also might have different pruning guidelines since they need to be pruned quite often. It never hurts to do a quick google search or call a local tree company like us if you have questions. Otherwise, you now know the basics of pruning so go ahead and trim away!