Here are a few simple tips to help you successfully prune a tree.
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As a landscaper, I’ve had some strong feelings about pruning, and mostly about pruning correctly. So today, I’ve got a nice young camper tree that’s got just enough going on inside so that I can show the basics of treatment. So the question is, where do we start with pruning. Well, I use the method of the 4D’s, remove what’s dead, damaged, deformed and removed what’s dysfunctional.
The first thing I said was dead. That which is dead can be removed. This is dead. It’s brown, it’s crispy so we can just take it right off. The next thing is anything that’s damaged, you can feel free to remove. This is damaged because it’s a stub cut. Remove any stub. And the reason that you want to remove stubs is for just this right here. It was incorrectly pruned and the stub was allowed to stay here. What happens is that instead of this cut being able to close off and compartmentalize right there on that collar, the dead growth and the decay has started to move into this other branch. And this could continue to travel moving into here killing this entire branch, going into the tree and overall just making the tree an unhealthy plant. So, I have to actually take off the entire thing at the point of origin. Make a nice clean cut. For anything larger than the hand pruners, we’ll want to use a saw. If you have a larger piece like this and especially when it’s dead, that’s going to be a harder wood to cut off. Take your saw and then get in there. You want to get close to the branch collar but you don’t want to come into this area.
If your branch is bigger than an inch in diameter, don’t cut it near the base because the bark could actually tear back and damage the tree. Instead, cut it a little further out using a few steps. I’m going to first do an undercut and then I’m going to go out and then I’m going to do my overcut. And that undercut allows this branch when it starts to rip off, if this wants to rip back and you get a scar in your wood, the rip would stop right there at my undercut. Now that it has already fallen, I can just remove it completely. We’re never going to leave stubs so I’m going to come in here and remove the stub with a nice clean cut at the branch collar. Nice clean cut, now the rest of the plant can continue to grow in this normal function and fashion.
Deformed plants would be something that is not within the natural form or the aesthetic form that you would like to see in your plant. Each different tree has its own particular way it wants to grow so you really need to know what you’re working with. I have a branch that came up here and it hits this other branch, and now it’s causing the wood to rub there. I’m going to remove the side shoot, get rid of this stuff.
Another thing that we’re looking for in pruning, and lastly, is we’re trying to give direction to things. I’ve got this branch that heads off this direction. This one goes here so to keep the growth going to the direction that I want so I’ll take off these branches. This also will thin out the tree allowing sunlight and airflow which has been essential to the tree’s health. Now because this is an Evergreen tree, you can pretty much prune evergreens any time of the year.
If you have a tree that goes dissident, those dormant and its leaves fall, then you typically want to wait until those leaves have fallen and then go in there and prune the tree.
And there you have it. The basics of tree pruning.
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