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Coastal 101 | Home & Garden | January 13, 2017

Urban Farmer’s Almanac - Tree Pruning Basics

Tree Pruning Tips and Tricks

Pruning trees can seem daunting. With a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be pruning your trees with confidence, improving the heath and bounty of your flowering and fruit trees.

Start with the Basics

In the video below you’ll get a quick course into Tree Pruning 101 with host John Kelly and Brian Roth, Coastal’s lawn and garden specialist.

As Brian explains in the video, pruning involves removing dead wood, damaged and diseased branches, and any duplicate branches that are crossing over, rubbing or running parallel. Here is a quick rundown:

  1. Only prune when the tree is dormant or is at the optimal time of year for pruning.

  2. Get a good view of the tree. Remove dead, damaged, diseased, and duplicate branches, in addition to branches that are growing up and into the center of the tree.

  3. Make all small branch cuts at an angle to keep rain out. Cut about ¼” above any bud facing the outside of a tree. This will encourage growth in that direction.

To ensure a tree’s overall health and to avoid suckering and creating weak branches, avoid removing large branches. Additionally, topping a tree can cause structural as well as health issues. Whatever you cut, but sure you have the right tools.

Tools of the Trade

From pruning shears to a small chainsaw, using the right equipment makes tree maintenance easier. Here’s a rundown of the tools you’ll need and the branches they are designed to cut.

  • Pruning Shears: up to ¾” diameter
  • Loping Shears: up to 1 ½” diameter
  • Hand Saw: anything over 1” diameter
  • Pole Saw: for cutting hard-to-reach branches
  • Chain Saw: bar lengths vary

Protect People and Property

Trees can be dangerous in the right conditions. If a tree is in danger of coming down on you or your home, have it removed. Or simply remove large branches that can cause damage while being careful to not injure the tree or cause disease. If you do need to prune a larger tree, there are several common pruning types.

Crown Thinning and Reducing: This approach can improve light penetration and air movement by removing branches throughout the crown. This is typically done on younger trees.

Crown Raising: This is the art of removing lower branches to allow more clearance above lawns and sidewalks.

Crown Cleaning: This is simply removing dead and diseased branches.

Making Your Cuts

To avoid tearing and breaking near the trunk, take down larger branches in chunks. The larger the branch, the more cuts it should take to finally remove the limb.

Start from the outside and move in several feet at a time. Before taking down the last part of the limb, make a small cut from the bottom of the branch upward, careful to avoid the branch collar. The branch collar is the area where the branch first comes off the tree. To keep your tree healthy, only cut branch wood and not wood from the branch collar. Finally, make your cut from the top down.

Best Times to Prune

While it is best to prune when a tree is dormant, some are best pruned right after they begin blooming. Those include: flowering plumb, cherry, lilac, magnolia, and more. Other common trees pruning times include the following:

tree trimming chart

Tree Advice at Coastal 

When you’re ready to tackle your trees, come by your nearby Coastal Farm & Ranch. We’ll show you our full line of pruners, saws and more. Have a question about your specific tree? We’ll likely have the answers you need to get the job done right.

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