Promote tree health with regular pruning
It may seem that once you plant a tree, all it needs is nature's sun and water to make it grow strong and healthy. However, it’s important to regularly prune trees because it will promote an aesthetically pleasing shape and help preserve the safety of people and property.
Start pruning shortly after planting your tree, making sure to remove broken or diseased branches. Over the lifetime of the tree, continue to prune, thinning the branches or limbs to enhance access to light for more desirable growth.
It’s also very important to prune trees that hang over the mailbox or out into the road as they could impede the traffic flow of pedestrians and drivers. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a tree that is pruned when it’s young will be more likely to resist ice and wind damage, and it will be easier to maintain over time.
The Arbor Day Foundation offers the following advice for pruning trees:
1. Take stock of the tree. Inspect it from top to bottom, identifying the trunk as well as its branches. Remove all dead branches and leaves.
2. Follow the rules of thirds and fourths. Basically, the ideal size for side branches is one-third smaller than the size of a tree trunk, and they should angle away from the trunk at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. Additionally, no more than one-fourth of the crown should be trimmed off in any given season.
3. Use the right tools. The Arbor Day Foundation recommends the use of pruning shears with curved blades on young trees. Though you could use a pole pruner on higher branches, it may be best to call in a highly rated tree service to complete that task as this could be a safety issue.
4. On smaller branches, make the cut at a slight angle about one-fourth of an inch beyond a bud. If you leave too much area, the tree will continue to send nutrients to that dead area, wasting valuable energy.
It’s important to properly identify the type of tree before you start pruning because certain trees need to be pruned at specific times of the year. For example, deciduous trees should be pruned in the late winter or early spring, while evergreen trees should be pruned in late March or April.