To keep a tree alive, you should prune it only at certain times and follow certain guidelines. You should also avoid cutting off the top of the tree. Trees can bear a loss of about five to twenty percent of its volume without killing them. However, if you cut off more than this, the tree will die.
Pruning Mistakes to Avoid
Pruning shrubs and trees is a difficult task that requires careful planning to prevent unnecessary damage. People prune trees and shrubs for many different reasons, including reducing the size of the plant, opening the canopy, removing dead or damaged growth, and improving the overall shape. When cutting a tree or shrub, there are some common mistakes that people should avoid.
One of the most common mistakes people make when cutting a tree is cutting the branch off with just one cut. Cutting off a large branch all at once results in torn bark. Instead, experts recommend making several cuts through the branch, including a shallow cut on the underside. After pruning the branch, leave a stub that is two to four inches long.
There are two main types of branches to prune: main and lateral. They are also known as old wood and young wood. There are also inner and outer branches. Cutting the outer branch too close to the trunk is known as “flush cut” and removes the “branch collar” – a small swelling that covers the branch where it meets the trunk. This pruning mistake can make the wound more difficult to heal and can lead to disease.
Don’t Chop Off Tree Tops
Chopping off the top of a tree is a common backyard practice that can harm trees. This practice, also known as pollarding, dehorning, or heading, is a crime against nature. A group called Plant Amnesty has spent decades trying to end this practice.
Trees need large leaves and a large surface area for food. Cutting the top off depletes stored reserves and disrupts the tree’s food-making capacity. This method also encourages the growth of unwelcome “water sprouts” – dense upright branches that sprout out of the tree’s crown.
Only Prune Trees at Specific Times
Pruning is important to the health of your trees, but you need to be careful not to kill them. The process of pruning should only be performed by a Certified Arborist, who is skilled at climbing and possesses the proper equipment and insurance to avoid harming the tree. Pruning a mature tree should only be done during the dormant season, as pruning a tree at a different time will cause it to lose its vital energy and may result in disease and insect entry.
Winter is an ideal time to prune trees. This is when new growth forms, and it is much easier to visualize the structure of the branches. It is also easier to see where to cut a tree’s branches than in other seasons. Remember to prune before the weather warms up, so you don’t cut into the new growth.
Young trees need a helping hand as they grow, and early trimming can give them a firm foundation and a desirable aesthetic. You should focus on pruning only broken or dead branches at this early stage. You should wait at least two years before performing any heavy pruning, as this will ensure that the tree has fully established itself and will not be overly stressed from transplanting.
Understanding Correct Trimming Techniques
Proper pruning is an important part of landscape maintenance. If you do not understand proper tree care, you could damage or kill a tree. Incorrect pruning techniques can also lead to pest and disease problems. When cutting a tree, always cut only a small portion of the living limb. Check the shape of the tree from all sides before you make any cuts.
For thick, heavy branches, you should cut them flush with the trunk. A branch’s collar is a tissue area that contains a chemically protected zone. This protective layer will keep decay from spreading downward, and when a branch is cut at this point, the decayed tissue is walled off. This process allows the branch to fall away and regenerate in the spring.
Proper pruning should be done in the winter. Winter pruning is less stressful on trees, reduces the risk of infection, and promotes new growth in the spring. However, do not attempt to prune a tree when it is dormant. Doing so can kill a tree that has taken decades to grow.
Don’t Over-Prune Trees
Pruning trees is a natural part of tree care, but it can have harmful effects. Incorrect pruning can cause a tree to die. Trees should only be pruned between five and twenty percent of their crown at a time. Anything beyond this can trigger a stress response that produces unwanted growth. This growth uses up the tree’s energy reserves and requires more pruning. In addition, over-pruning can kill your tree, especially if it is already declining.
Pruning trees during certain times of year can cause them to be susceptible to airborne diseases and insects. Beetles, for example, are attracted to open wounds and can spread Dutch elm disease and oak wilt. This is why it is important to avoid pruning during warm months.
You can also protect your trees from sunburn by covering their trunks with shade boards. This is a temporary solution and should be removed after a season.
While it may sound like an easy way to cut a tree without killing it, lion tailing poses a danger to the tree. This method concentrates the weight of the branch on the ends, which causes the branch to sway and possibly break. It also leads to a weak, unhealthy tree.
Lion tailing is the opposite of proper pruning, which is done to create an attractive tree without killing it. This practice is detrimental to the tree’s health and structure, and should never be attempted unless you’re certain you don’t want to kill it. It also results in unbalanced limbs, which weakens the root structure, and eliminates the dampening effect of interior limbs. Consequently, lion tailing is generally not recommended by certified arborists. Instead, certified arborists prune trees carefully to ensure the tree’s health and safety.
Lion tailing involves the removal of interior branches to expose more of the crown. As a result, trees look unnaturally open, and their foliage-filled canopy appears like an umbrella. This makes the tree vulnerable to wind and sun damage. Furthermore, it can increase the appearance of water sprouts, which is a sign of stress.
Take Care of Clustered Branches
If you have clustered branches on your tree, there are a few steps you can take to keep them looking their best. First, prune them in the direction you would like them to grow. Usually, you will want to prune the branches on a north-south orientation so they will continue to grow in that direction.
Trees are a vital part of our ecosystem, but many go unnoticed until they are cut down or destroyed. The amount of trimming that can be done to a tree depends on the species and the size of the tree, and should only be performed by a certified arborist. ISA certification and membership are mandatory for professionals in this field, who can provide expert advice on proper pruning techniques.
The first step in removing trees is to identify the location and size of the roots. You should use pruning shears to cut small roots that are fewer than one inch in diameter. Next, use a trowel or a shovel to dig up the remainder of the root. Once the roots have been removed, fill in the hole with earth. Then, monitor the tree closely for any signs of distress.
Despite the obvious safety risks, it is possible to cut a tree without killing it. The main rule is not to cut off too much of the tree’s root system. In general, you should only cut 25 percent of the root system. To determine this number, measure the diameter of the trunk at four feet off the ground. Multiply this number by six to determine the exact distance from the trunk you can cut off 25% of the roots.