How to prun trees


Pruning trees and shrubs | UMN Extension

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Quick facts

  • Pruning changes the form and growth of a plant.
  • Pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance for both insect and disease damage.
  • Many problems may be prevented by pruning correctly during the formative years for a tree or shrub.
  • The late dormant season is the best time for most pruning.

Prune to promote plant health

  • Remove dead or dying branches injured by disease, severe insect infestation, animals, storms, or other adverse mechanical damage.
  • Remove branches that rub together.
  • Remove branch stubs

Avoid topping trees. Removing large branches leaves stubs that can cause several health problems. It also destroys the plant's natural shape and promotes suckering and the development of weak branch structures.

Prune to maintain intended purposes for plants in a landscape

  • To encourage flower and fruit development.
  • To maintain a dense hedge.
  • To maintain or encourage a desired plant form or special garden forms.

Prune to improve plant appearance

Appearance in the landscape is essential to a plant's usefulness. For most landscapes, a plant's natural form is best.

Avoid shearing shrubs into tight geometrical forms unless they need to be confined or trained for a specific purpose. When plants are properly pruned, it's hard to tell that they've been pruned.

Pruning:

  • Controls plant size and shape.
  • Keeps shrubby evergreens well-proportioned and dense.
  • Removes unwanted branches, waterspouts, suckers and undesirable fruiting structures that detract from plant appearance.

Prune to protect people and property

  • Remove dead branches.
  • Have hazardous trees taken down.
  • Prune out weak or narrow-angled tree branches that overhang homes, parking areas, sidewalks and anyplace falling limbs could injure people or damage property.
  • Eliminate branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals and overhead wires. 
    • DO NOT attempt to prune near electrical and utility wires. Contact utility companies or city maintenance workers to handle it.
  • Prune branches that block vision at intersections.
  • For security purposes, prune shrubs or tree branches that obscure the entry to your home.

How to prune trees and shrubs

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When to prune

The late dormant season (late winter to early spring) is best for most pruning.

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  • Apricot
  • Azalea
  • Chokeberry
  • Chokecherry
  • Clove currant
  • Flowering plum
  • Flowering cherry
  • Forsythia
  • Juneberry
  • Lilac
  • Magnolia
  • Early blooming spirea
  • Alpine currant
  • Barberry
  • Buffaloberry
  • Burning bush
  • Dogwood
  • Honeysuckle
  • Ninebark
  • Peashrub
  • Purpleleaf sandcherry
  • Smokebush
  • Sumac

Reviewed in 2022

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How to Prune a Tree

Peter J. Bedker, Joseph G. O’Brien, and Manfred M. Mielke – USDA Forest Service

All landscape and shade trees require pruning at some time during their life.  Trees may be pruned to:

  • Promote plant health by removing dead or dying branches injured by disease, severe insect infestation, animals, storms, or other adverse mechanical damage such as crossing and rubbing branches;
  • Maintain the intended purposes in a landscape, by encouraging flower and fruit development, 
maintaining a dense hedge, or 
maintaining a desired tree form or special garden forms;
  • Improve aesthetics by controlling plant size or 
removing unwanted branches, waterspouts, suckers, and undesirable fruiting structures;
  • Protect people and property by removing dead or hazardous branches such as weak or narrow-angled tree branches that overhang homes, parking areas, and sidewalks;
  • Increase visibility by eliminating branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals, overhead wires, or obscure vision at intersections; and
  • Improve security around the home by removing branches that obscure the entry to your home.

Pruning can best be used to encourage trees to develop a strong structure and reduce the likelihood of damage during severe weather. Pruning for form can be especially important on open-grown trees that do very little self-pruning. All woody plants shed branches in response to shading and competition. Branches that are poorly attached may be broken off by wind and accumulation of snow and ice. Branches removed by such natural forces often result in large, ragged wounds that rarely seal. Pruning as a cultural practice can be used to supplement or replace these natural processes and increase the strength and longevity of plants.

Pruning Approaches

Proper pruning cuts are made at a node, the point at which one branch or twig attaches to another. In the spring of the year growth begins at buds, and twigs grow until a new node is formed. The length of a branch between nodes is called an internode. The most common types of pruning are:

Pruning Cuts

Figure 1. Common types of pruning. Branches to be removed are in blue. Cuts should be made where indicated with red lines.

Pruning cuts should be made so that only branch tissue is removed and stem tissue is not damaged. At the point where the branch attaches to the stem, branch and stem tissues remain separate, but are contiguous. If only branch tissues are cut when pruning, the stem tissues of the tree will probably not become decayed, and the wound will seal more effectively.

Pruning Live Branches

To find the proper place to cut a branch, look for the branch collar that grows from the stem tissue at the underside of the base of the branch. On the upper surface, there is usually a branch bark ridge that runs (more or less) parallel to the branch angle, along the stem of the tree. A proper pruning cut does not damage either the branch bark ridge or the branch collar.

Figure 2. Pruning cuts.

A proper cut begins just outside the branch bark ridge and angles down away from the stem of the tree, avoiding injury to the branch collar. Make the cut as close as possible to the stem in the branch axil, but outside the branch bark ridge, so that stem tissue is not injured and the wound can seal in the shortest time possible. The second cut should be outside the first cut, all the way through the branch, leaving a short stub. The stub is then cut just outside the branch bark ridge/branch collar, completing the operation.

Pruning Dead Branches

Prune dead branches in much the same way as live branches. Making the correct cut is usually easy because the branch collar and the branch bark ridge can be distinguished from the dead branch, because they continue to grow. Make the pruning cut just outside of the ring of woundwood tissue that has formed, being careful not to cause unnecessary injury.

Drop Crotch Cuts

A proper cut begins just above the branch bark ridge and extends through the stem parallel to the branch bark ridge. Usually, the stem being removed is too large to be supported with one hand, so the three cut method should be used.

  1. With the first cut, make a notch on the side of the stem away from the branch to be retained, well above the branch crotch.
  2. Begin the second cut inside the branch crotch, staying well above the branch bark ridge, and cut through the stem above the notch.
  3. Cut the remaining stub just inside the branch bark ridge through the stem parallel to the branch bark ridge.

Figure 3. Pruning cuts.

To prevent the abundant growth of sprouts on the stem below the cut, or dieback of the stem to a lower lateral branch, make the cut at a lateral branch that is at least one-third of the diameter of the stem at their union.

References

ANSI Z133.1. 1994. Safety standards. American national standard for tree care operators. Washington, DC: American National Standards Institute.

ANSI A300. 1995. Standard practices for tree, shrub, and other woody plant maintenance. Washington, DC: American National Standards Institute.

Fazio, J. R. ed. 1992. Don’t top trees. Tree City USA Bulletin No. 8. Nebraska City, NE: The National Arbor Day Foundation.

Harris, R.W. 1994. Clarifying certain pruning terminology: thinning, heading, pollarding. Journal of Arboriculture 20:50-54.

ISA Performance Guidelines Committee. 1994. Tree-pruning guidelines. Savoy, IL: International Society of Arboriculture.

Ryan, H.D.P. III. 1994. Arboricultural pruning methodologies. Arborist News Volume 3(4):33-38.

Shigo, A. 1991. Modern arboriculture. Durham, NH: Shigo & Trees, Associates.

Shigo, A. 1989. Tree pruning: a worldwide photo guide. Durham, NH: Shigo & Trees, Associates

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Mike Zins and Deborah Brown, Extension Horticulturists http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/DG0628.html

How to prune fruit trees: tips for beginners

Pruning fruit trees and shrubs is one of the most important annual operations, without which no plant can grow normally, develop and give full yields.

It is necessary to prune fruit trees in order to correctly form their crown, to prevent its thickening, which interferes with the access of light and oxygen to the branches and leads to the emergence of diseases and pests.

Without pruning, the yield of both stone and pome plants drops sharply, the fruits become small and tasteless.

There are different types of pruning, some of them are too difficult for a beginner gardener, and not always necessary. In this article, we will show you how to prune fruit trees with the least amount of effort and using the simplest tool that everyone has.

We have already talked about how to prune fruit trees in our articles: How to care for cherries, How to care for pears, Frost-resistant cherries, How to grow plums.

HOW TO CUT FRUIT TREES AFTER PLANTING

Pruning of young plantings begins at the age of three. It is necessary for a tree to form a crown correctly and quickly. Such a formation has been carried out for several years. And here it is important not to make mistakes, since an incorrectly formed crown will be very difficult to correct in the future.

The main thing is to correctly create the frame of the future tree. As a rule, two types of pruning are used in amateur gardens: sparsely-tiered and non-tiered. The first is the simplest and most accessible for any novice gardener. It is equally good for both stone fruit and pome crops.

In the first two years, fruit trees mainly grow the root system, and the growth of the aerial part is rather small. In the third year, the intensive growth of the tree itself begins, and if you do not start shaping it, then it will turn into a long thick “whip” with weak side branches.

Pruning of young fruit trees starts from the central conductor. It is shortened to a height of 75 cm, leaving up to 10 buds on it, from which new shoots and side branches will form. Thus, the first tier is laid.

The following spring, damaged and weak branches are removed, leaving the 3 strongest. This will be the second tier. In subsequent years, the third, fourth and fifth tiers are formed in the same way.

When the tree reaches a height of four meters, cut the center conductor above the top branch to stop the growth of the tree, otherwise it will be quite difficult to care for it. Your crown has been formed.

HOW TO TRIM Mature FRUIT TREES

Annual pruning of fruit trees promotes the formation of new shoots, increases the number of flower buds, relieves the crown of the tree from thickening, improves the taste of the fruit, increases yield, limits the growth of the tree and facilitates its care.

This operation is carried out in the spring - at the end of March - beginning of April, before the start of bud break.

Pruning mature plants differs significantly from shaping a young tree. As a rule, it is limited to two operations: shortening and thinning.

Shorten branches to encourage shoots and buds to grow. A cut on annual branches must be made above the bud, and on a long-term one - above one of the branches.

This operation promotes the rapid growth of shoots below the cut. These young shoots will quickly begin to grow fruit twigs.

Thinning is necessary to improve access to sunlight and air circulation inside the canopy. This contributes to the formation of large, even fruits and prevents the appearance of diseases and pests.

During thinning, cut out all branches growing inside the crown or at an acute angle to the trunk. The latter can cause winter breaks in the tree.

Before pruning, all broken, withered and weak branches are removed, and then they begin the main work.

You can prolong the life of old trees with rejuvenating pruning. It is made for trees older than 18 years. The easiest way to rejuvenate is to shorten all branches by 2/3 of the length.

FRUIT TREE PUTTER

For pruning, you will need a short-handled pruner, a long-handled treetop pruner and a sickle-shaped garden saw, as well as a garden pitcher for covering tree wounds.

All garden tools must be sharpened and disinfected immediately before starting work. Immediately after cutting off the branches, it is necessary to cover the cut with garden pitch.

Pome crops are pruned first, and then stone fruits.

Do not delay pruning, because after the start of sap flow, it is no longer possible to prun fruit trees. Stone fruit crops can be especially affected by this.

Pruning of fruit shrubs begins at the end of April.

when possible, how to do it right, why prune fruit trees

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  • When to prune fruit trees

Pruning fruit trees is one of the most important gardening activities. For its correct implementation, you must adhere to certain rules. It is important, for example, to clearly understand how to prune branches and whether pruning should be done in summer and autumn. The procedure will pay off if it is performed regularly at the most appropriate time. When to prune trees in the garden, how to do it correctly, why do you need pruning of fruit plants?

Why are trees pruned in the garden?

What is the purpose of pruning trees in the garden? This is necessary in order to:

  • make harvesting easier;
  • create favorable conditions for flowering and fruiting. Pruning promotes the emergence of new young stems and, as a result, an increase in yield;
  • allow more sunlight and air to enter the canopy: a small bird should be able to fly through the center of the tree. Improved air movement prevents pests and diseases, and more light contributes to uniform ripening;
  • remove dead and diseased branches and stems, thereby rejuvenating trees.
  • give the plant the desired shape.

Spring pruning

Spring pruning of fruit crops is considered the most expedient and useful for the garden. It is important not to overdo it, because excessive zeal can lead to the fact that the tree will weaken or even die, not to mention a decrease in yield. It should be remembered, for example, that 30-40 leaves of an apple tree provide the conditions for the ripening of just one fruit.

Terms of procedure . Spring pruning will benefit the tree if done at the optimum time. When is the best time to start this process? If you start it too early, when temperatures are still low, the fruit crop may suffer from frost. If, however, tighten with pruning before the start of sap flow, then after it is carried out, the places of cuts will “heal” for a long time. The most suitable weather for pruning trees in the garden is clear, slightly frosty, with a temperature not lower than -5 ° C. For central Russia, this is usually the period from mid-March to mid-April.

How to prepare inventory . In addition to meeting the deadlines, there are other important nuances that determine how productive the spring pruning of young and fairly old trees in the garden will be. To carry out the procedure, you must first have the appropriate inventory, which, among other things, must be properly prepared. The tools you plan to use for pruning should be sharpened and sanitized. This is done in order not to cause unnecessary injuries and damage to the trees, as well as not to infect fruit crops. Sharpening the tool will be better if, before performing it, lower the cutting parts for some time in a salt solution (1 tablespoon per 1 glass of water).

Special considerations for pruning young plants . Pruning of young trees should be carried out carefully, avoiding excessive removal of branches and shoots. If the plant is still infertile, it is enough to rid it of diseased, damaged, thickening crown or hindering the growth of skeletal branches of shoots, as well as to shorten annual growths. If you need to remove the shoot completely, it is cut into a ring, leaving no stumps. In order not to damage the bark, when cutting a thick branch, first make a notch from the underside and then saw it off completely with a hacksaw from above. Remove excess branches carefully so as not to damage the kidneys with a cutting tool. When shortening to a kidney, the secateurs are started from the side of the neighboring branch, placing it at an angle of 45 ° in the direction from the base to the top of the shoot. The cutting blade should be 1–2 mm below the base of the kidney, the second blade 1–2 mm higher.

Branches to be removed

Branches to be removed from the fruit tree:

  • dead, diseased and broken. Shoots affected by pests or diseases are best removed immediately, along with areas where fungi have appeared, such as, for example, a tinder fungus. Old fractures need to be treated. To do this, remove the broken branch by pruning for translation, level the cut surface and “apply a bandage” from garden pitch or other compositions;
  • the weakest of the two growing side by side and moving in the same direction. If the branches are the same and there is a need to keep both, they are redirected by breeding in different directions;
  • representing the root branch, as well as shoots growing below the grafting site. The root branch must be removed before the tree becomes multi-stemmed;
  • intersecting, rubbing against each other, growing inside the crown;
  • which may pose a threat to property and human health.

Methods for pruning fruit trees

Two main methods are used for pruning fruit trees: pruning (shortening) and cutting (removing). When pruning, it should be borne in mind that the stronger the shortening, the more branching will be next year. If the tree tends to branch heavily, it is better to cut the branches entirely. If a short pruning is performed (about a third of the length of the branch), few shoots will appear at the top. With strong pruning (when a third of the branch remains), more powerful shoots will grow, which will diverge in different directions. Increments up to 40 cm long are usually not shortened. But if you want to activate growth, make a fairly strong pruning. Some fruit crops are characterized by low bud awakening. That is, annual growths are long, but branching occurs only in the upper part. In this case, a strong shortening stimulates branching and makes the crown more compact.

Types of pruning

Pruning of fruit trees can be:

  • sanitary, when cutting (removal) of branches affected by pests and diseases;
  • supporting or regulating, performed to limit the size of the plant (when individual branches are shortened or cut). This procedure allows you to prevent thickening of the crown, maintain the ability of the culture to regularly bear fruit, thin out flowers and ovaries;
  • forming. This is, in fact, the creation of decorative forms from trees on dwarf rootstocks using a frame and by repeated pruning;
  • anti-aging, which allows you to restore the ability to grow by significantly shortening the branches in areas with the optimal length of annual growth;
  • restorative, in the form of rejuvenation of old plants, restoring the ability to bear fruit, reducing the height of a tree, forming a crown or part of it from tops.

Is pruning done in summer and autumn

Beginning gardeners often have questions: Should garden trees be pruned in summer and autumn? Such pruning is quite acceptable, it all depends on the goals pursued. Often, gardeners prune plants during these seasons.

Summer . With the onset of the summer months, the growth of garden trees slows down. The supply of nutrients is used up and the plant begins to restore them through photosynthesis. Part of the generated energy is used to feed the summer growth, part goes into the roots to form a reserve for the next year. The lack of energy reserves at this time of the year can be used, for example, to reduce the size of an oversized tree. That is, if you carried out the main pruning in the spring, then in the summer you can cut the tips of young growths if you need to limit their growth. But spring is more suitable for removing large branches.

Autumn . In order not to harm the trees with autumn pruning, it should be remembered that whenever you cut a branch, for example, apple or pear trees, you leave a wound on the body of the plant. This is not a problem during the growing season, i.e. in the spring: after a few days, the wound will be covered with a layer of protective cells. In autumn, growth slows down and healing may not occur. That. autumn is not the best time for cutting branches on fruit crops, but this is practiced in the southern regions. Autumn pruning, which usually occurs after the end of leaf fall, is shaping, rejuvenating or restorative.

What a gardener will need for work

Pruning should be done in comfortable clothing that does not restrict movement and does not cling to branches. It is also better to wear special shoes with non-slip soles, a hat with a visor, gardening gloves and goggles. To carry out the work, a stepladder or other support may be required. Getting started, you need to make sure that the ladder is level and stable. It is better if you have an assistant when cutting trees at a height.

Conclusion

Thus, pruning garden trees helps not only form the crown of plants, but also stimulate fruiting.


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