How to prune a tree

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pruning a tree
Pruning a tree takes a bit of patience
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Know how to prune a tree to keep them healthy and looking good

Pruning trees is almost an art form. You have to cut the tree and its branches in certain ways in order to maximize the effects of pruning. Once you know how to prune a tree, you can have gorgeous, vibrant trees that are shaped, healthy and growing better than ever.

Benefits of Pruning

Although it may seem that pruning a tree would cause it harm or hinder its growth, it actually does the opposite. Pruning benefits a tree by removing dead or diseased branches. By discarding the damaged limbs, you can prevent the rest of the tree from becoming sick and ultimately remove the illness. Pruning is helpful as well for areas that are infested with insects. Cutting the branch off of the tree gets those bugs away from the tree and can keep them from bothering the rest of the tree.

Pruning is also beneficial to fruit trees. Keeping the branches trimmed with quality garden tools actually stimulates the tree to grow and produce fruit. Additionally, pruning also encourages flowers to grow, as well. Not only does pruning make the tree better by shaping it and getting rid of straggly branches, it enhances its appearance by causing it to grow better.

Pruning trees also helps to keep you and others around the tree safe. Branches that are hanging too low or are loose could hurt others. The limbs could fall on top of you when you are walking under it or poke you in the face, head or eye. The branch would not only hurt, but could cause major injuries. Pruning protects the tree and protects the trees and landscaping around it, as well.

Where to Prune

Learning how to prune not only involves figuring out how to cut the branches, but also where to cut them off of the tree. Where you cut them depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For instance, if you are attempting to shape the tree by removing some of the bottom branches, doing so is called “crown raising.” This technique is perfect for when lower branches pose a threat to those walking, biking or driving under the tree.

Additionally, branches that hang on the ground can cause damage to some trees. When using this approach, you should remove branches on the lower third of the tree. This should give enough space under the tree for you to get underneath.

Crown reduction is when you want to remove some of the upper branches of the tree. This is often required when the limbs are touching power lines or are causing some other damage. Although this technique is helpful, it can cause deep wounds to the tree, because you often have to remove large and thick branches that are healthy and alive. If possible, it's best to remove the tree and replace it with one that won't grow too large.

The other type of pruning allows air to better flow through the branches. Called “crown thinning,” this technique is particularly essential to hardwoods. Only one-quarter of the living branches should be removed at a time to prevent injury to the tree.

How to Prune

In order to prune, you'll need to arm yourself with the proper tools. Small and medium-width branches can be easily taken away with the help of a pair of loppers or shears. They are just the right size for these branches and are fitted with blades that are sharp enough for the job. The branches should be cut right past the branch collar, which grows at the base of the branch. The collar typically looks different than the branch, so you'll know where to cut it. If you have thick branches, you may need to use a chainsaw or axe, as they are often the only tools strong enough to cut through the branch.

Once you know how to prune a tree, you can keep yours healthy, happy and full.


United States Department of Agriculture: How to Prune Trees

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