Tips for trimming trees

Tips for trimming trees

As winter approaches, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you want to care for your trees, especially in terms of pruning.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, you should remove branches that are dead or dying after being injured by disease, insects or storms. It is best to prune trees to prevent injury to people or property, and to clear utility lines.

You should also consider thinning, raising or shortening the crown of a tree to improve its appearance. The crown refers to all parts of a tree that exist above ground.

The University of Minnesota Extension recommends that property owners start pruning trees soon after planting, and throughout the duration of the tree's life.

Fruit trees - According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, properly pruned fruit trees – whether you grow apricots, olives or plums – will yield high quality fruit at an earlier point in their lives, and are likely to live longer.

Opening the crown lets in light for proper bud development which is crucial to a fruit’s flavor and quality. It also improves air movement to discourage the onset of disease.

Shade trees - Even though they may protect you and your home from the sun, many shade trees like oak, maple and elm need to have their crowns thinned occasionally in order to provide sunlight to lower-lying branches.

Ornamental trees - Flowering cherries and plums, dogwood and redbud should all be pruned after they bloom.

Shrubs and bushes - Bushes grown for their showy foliage, such as burning bush, dogwood and smokebush, should be pruned in the spring before growth begins. Those that flower, such as lilacs, azaleas and wisteria, should be pruned after they bloom.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, evergreens generally don’t require much pruning. But if you prune a spruce or fir, it’s best to do so in the late winter or early spring before growth begins.

If you’re uncertain of when or how to prune your trees, or if you are concerned for your safety, you can call in a tree service to assist you. Sign in to Angie’s List to find a highly rated tree service company in the Washington D.C. area.


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