How To Properly Prune

By: Jeff Skierka

Prune like a pro and your trees will love you for it.

As I drive through neighborhoods, I am constantly amazed at the horrific pruning I see. While some plants are meant to form a hedge and should be sheared, most plants should not be. It pains me to see beautiful Japanese maples, flowering and fruit-bearing trees, and others lose their character and beauty by being sheared.

Properly trained pruners know that, to bring out the natural beauty of a plant, it is important to always start “inside” the plant and prune toward the outside.

Always use the following checklist, especially when pruning deciduous trees.

  • Remove all dead branches.
  • Always remove “suckers,” branches that often grow straight up from the base of the plant; if left unpruned they can overtake the main tree.
  • Remove crossing branches.
  • Remove branches growing toward the center of the tree.
  • Make sure all pruning cuts are clean, diagonal, and cut to the nearest branch; never leave stubs.

A correctly pruned plant will maintain its beauty and character throughout the landscape seasons. Upon completion of pruning, you should be able to see though the plant. This will allow for a healthier tree or bush that can now “breathe.”

The optimum time to prune is after the temperatures have dropped and the leaves have fallen. The plants are now at a dormant stage and will not be stressed or bleed sap from pruning.

Properly pruned plants will be healthier and add value to the landscape for years and years to come.
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