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Reasons to Prune

Safety– By removing dead or decaying branches, or trees, can reduce the risk to public safety.  Raising the lower branches of a tree near a stop sign or drive way may improve visibility.

Structural Strength– Thinning a tree canopy can allow for more airflow circulation through the crown of the tree, reducing the likelihood of failure during a wind or snow event.  Air circulation in the crown also can help confuse pests that might be looking at your tree for a place to make a home.  Establishing a central leader and good structural in scaffold branches will set the tree up for success in years to come, saving money in long term maintenance costs.

Health-Removing dead or dying branches can help the tree begin to create callus wood, which seals pruning cuts.  The sooner the branch compartmentalizes, a barrier is formed to lessen the chance of invasion by insects and diseases.

Aesthetics– A properly maintained tree is more likely to survive, providing enjoyment for years to come.

Pruning Young Trees

Young trees are rapidly growing in size and shape.  There is great benefit in routinely pruning young trees, creating structure that will provide strength and support for years to come. Young tree pruning is not rocket science; here are some things to consider when caring for young trees:

  1. Remove dead branches

  2. Remove rubbing branches

  3. Establish a central leader by removing co-dominate stems (double tops)

  4. Establish branch spacing, evenly distributed scaffold branches

Pruning Mature Trees

The idiom, “you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks” relates to the idea that a mature tree cannot be trained for structure without sacrificing its health and vigor.  That being said, two types of mature trees exist; trees that have been maintained and trees that have been unkempt.  Maintained mature trees are simple to care for as they already have proper structure and form.  You can expect that the needs of properly pruned trees will be the occasional removal of dead branches, raising the crown, and encouraging healthy branch angles.  In comparison, the unmaintained tree will take more time and effort to correct.

Shade trees lacking competition found in a forest setting begin to not only grow in height, but in width.  Trees of this category still need basic crown thinning and raising, and  also need to be structurally pruned slowly, by removing no more than 25% of the canopy with each pruning session. If you have inherited an unmaintained tree, just have patience, and avoid topping.

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