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How to prune a tree how to series. Welcome to the first blog post in a new series of “how to” instructional guides. These guides are aimed for tree owners who are keen to get their hands dirty. Get stuck in on some of their own tree maintenance. Carrying out minor upkeep on your own trees can be very rewarding.
Will also give you an opportunity to notice the health and condition of your trees. So you can give them a helping hand where needed. This first blog of the series is aimed at pruning and will discuss the why, what, when and how of pruning trees.
Why Prune trees?
Trees may require pruning for several reasons including for appearance, safety, light issues, fruit production, suitability for the situation they are growing in, to restore views, or to keep them away from services or buildings. Some trees are lucky enough with the situation that they are growing in that they need no pruning at all. Deciding why you want to prune your tree really helps to inform the what, when and how of pruning.
What to prune?
This is largely determined by why to prune, the size if the tree and where it is growing. For safety reasons deadwood, broken branches and crossing/rubbing branches should be removed. If the tree is suffering from an infection the diseased branches should be pruned back to healthy wood.
To create more light removing some of the lower branches can give you access to morning and evening sun when it is lower in the sky. Alternatively, selected branches can be removed to create windows through the tree; this can also work for restoring views.
Fruit tree pruning is a topic and will be covered in another post. Ideally, no more than 30% of the branches that form leaves should be removed in any one prune to limit the negative affect on the tree.
When to prune?
Generally, you want to avoid the times of higher stress for the tree. These are during flowering, spring leaf production, fruiting and autumn leaf fall. It is also good to avoid pruning during long periods of drought. Better times to prune can be mid to end of summer and mid to end of winter.
How to prune a tree?
To give the tree the best chance of naturally adapting to the wound we prune to what is known as branch collars. In this part of the branch the wood can react and seal off the wound. To avoid tearing the bark it is important to first take the bulk of the weight out of the branch.
First make an under cut 1/3rd of the branch diameter on the lower side of the branch approximately 15cm out from the stem. Next cut from the top 2-3cm out from the undercut. The branch should snap or pop off at this point.
You then need to identify the branch collar. This is usually a pronounced ring at the base of the branch growing at 45 degrees to the main stem. It can be a bit hard to see on some trees.
Holding the 15cm stub in one hand cut along the branch collar with the other being careful not to tear the bark as you finish the cut. This work is best done with a sharp pruning saw. Smaller branches can be pruned with secateurs or loppers.
Finally, stand back and admire your work. More information about pruning can be found at the following links.
We have experience of providing regular maintenance programs on both large and small scales. Have a chat with us about how a maintenance program could be the best option for your tree stock.