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How to Prune Your Trees

How To Prune Your Trees

Here are some tips for good pruning. Always start by inspecting top of the tree and then work down.

Remember the ⅓ and ¼ Rules for Pruning
Tree Pruning Angles

  • Don’t remove more than ¼ of a tree’s top in a season
  • The main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the tree trunk.
  • For most trees that lose their leaves, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.
  • Try to encourage side branches that form angles, that are ⅓ off vertical or branches that form “10 o’clock” or “2 o’clock” angles with the trunk.
  1. Most trees should have a single trunk. Identify the best leader and later branches before you begin pruning and remove defective parts before pruning for form.
  2. Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts. For aesthetics, you may feel better painting large wounds but it doesn’t prevent or reduce decay.
  3. Keep tools sharp. One-hand pruning shears with curved blades work best on young trees.
  4. For high branches use a pole pruner. A major job on a big tree should be done by a professional tree expert.
  5. Tree Collar
  6. For larger branches, cut outside the branch bark and ridge collar (swollen area). Do not leave a protruding stub. If the limb is too small to have formed a collar cut close.
  7. When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a lateral bud or another lateral branch. Favor a bud that will produce a branch that will grow in desired direction (usually outward). The cut should be sharp and clean and made at a slight angle about ¼ inch beyond the bud.

Pruning Cut Guide

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