Pruning Your Trees and Shrubs
Relax pruning your trees and shrubs is not all that difficult. Making the right cuts now will save you a lot of work later. Correcting years of growth problems is a much more time consuming task than a yearly task will be.
Prune in the order of importance
1.) Prune all dead, dying and decaying branches.
2.) Diseased limbs.
3.) Branches that are in the way of mowing, paths and structures.
4.) Branches that cross one another.
5.) Branches that are not symmetrical with the natural shape of the tree or bush. Always make your first cut at the raised area where the branch meets the trunk, called the collar, without cutting into it.
When to Prune
Some people prune in the fall, some in the spring. I prefer to prune in the spring to be sure that my tree or bush will not shoot up with new growth before winter. The only items I prune during the fall months are limbs that are dead, diseased or dying, cutting raspberries back and cleaning up any perennial plants. I also prune lilacs, forsythia, azaleas and my spirea bushes. Otherwise, I would be cutting off the growth of next year’s flowers.
In the spring after everything has dried out and before spring growth, I go to work. I do the major tree limb cutting of trees and thinning of bushes.
Drop Cutting Tree Limbs
The correct way to cut a larger tree limb is to make drop cuts. Locate the collar of the tree where the branch grows out of. It is the large raised ring. Go about two inches up the limb from the collar and undercut the branch halfway through the bottom side of branch. Then on the top side of the branch, one inch from the cut you made on the underside, make a cut halfway through. Then tackle cutting the branch just to the outside of the branch collar of the tree. You will be making three cuts instead of one large cut. This will prevent the wood from splintering away from the tree and damaging you tree.
Thinning Branches and Shrubs
Again, locate the branch collar on the individual branches. This time you will not be cutting an entire branch off, just the side shoots that grow off the larger branch. Cut each side shoot at an angle. This will clean up the tree and bush, thinning it out and give them room for summer growth.
If this is your first attempt at pruning, don’t worry. You will do just fine! There are additional guides online to let you know when the best time of year to prune your trees and shrubs. Just type into the search box online the name of the tree or shrub along with pruning. You will find plenty of information to guide you. Before long you will be a master pruner.