WHAT IS PRUNING?
Tree-pruning is cutting branches from a tree with sharp saws, shears, or
- If a tree has dead or broken branches it is best to remove them for the
health of the tree and for saftey.
- If the tree has an extremely asymmetrical, or lop-sided, shape, pruning
can sometimes improve the overall appearance of the tree, giving it a more
- If the lower branches seem to be dangerous or in the way, removing them
is wise. For example, if a low branch overhangs a foot path or bike path.
WHAT TO PRUNE
- Remove "suckers" (thin, upright sprouts at the base of the tree or along
the trunk and lower branches.)
- One branch, if two branches are rubbing against each other.
- Dead wood.
WHO SHOULD PRUNE?
If you feel fairly confident about pruning methods and techniques you can
prune shrubs, small trees, and newly planted trees yourself. Many gardeners
enjoy this task. If you feel you need to learn more, classes are often
taught at horticultural societies, arboretums, or by a local county
extension offices. More experienced gardeners are also a good source of
If the tree is very large, the branches high up, or if the branches
overhang streets, fences, or pavement, you should consult with a
professional arborist or landscape professional.
NEVER PRUNE the topmost branch of a tree or cut off all the tips of the
branches. This is where all of the tree's growth "information" is stored,
and this may permanently deform the tree.
HOW TO PRUNE
Good pruning involves making clean, sharp cuts at the right places on a plant.
SMALL BRANCH OR TWIGS (smaller than your finger) use hand pruners: small,
sharp, hand-held cutting tools.
- To make the branch shorter, cut back to the last leaf bud and cut above
- To remove the branch, cut it at it's base, above the swolen ridge called
the "collar." It is important not to cut into the "collar," so leave a
little stump. This may look funny at first, but it prevents the tree from
getting diseases and infections. (DRAWING)
MEDIUM SIZED BRANCHES (3/4 " to 1 1/2 ") require either a pruning saw or
lopping shears. Lopping shears are a long handled cutting tool that give
you leverage to make clean cuts easily. Pruning saws have small, curved
serrated blades and curved handles. They tend to be very sharp!
- Again, cut bach to the next largest branch, or to the base, above the collar.
To remove a LARGE BRANCH, use the pruning saw. You need to make three
simple cuts so that the branch doesn't rip off the tree and tear away the
- 1 or 2 feet away from the trunk, make a cut upward, halfway through the
- A few inches further out on the limb, away from the trunk, make another
cut, this time downward, unitl the limb snaps off.
- You have a stump left. With the saw, carfully cut the stump off, taking
care to leave the collar intact. (DRAWING)