Of all the tasks that should be undertaken to assure healthy trees and shrubs, there are probably few that are so misunderstood, not to mention daunting, as pruning. Most homeowners are unsure what to do, how often to do it, and what time of the year pruning is needed.
However, correct pruning is critical in maintaining healthy and attractive trees and shrubs. The practice of pruning is simplified by understanding the basic techniques and principles of the job. The general discussion that follows is focused on pruning small trees and shrubs, but many of these same principles apply to more specialized techniques, such as those that should be used for roses, tree fruit, and small fruit. For a more specific discussion, just Google “Tree Service Near Me” or ask a professional.
Why Prune Trees and Shrubs?
There are many benefits of pruning trees and shrubs. The first, and perhaps most important, is that pruning keeps the people who find themselves around the trees and shrubs safe. A dead branch, for example, can fall from a tree and hurt someone. Unfortunately, as dangerous as a falling limb might be, the act of pruning can also be hazardous. As a result, unless a homeowner is comfortable with pruning, leave the job to a professional.
Tree Structure and Growth
Pruning trees and shrubs is essential for many reasons. First, pruning can seriously affect the growth of a tree. It can help create a pleasant balance of branches and limbs that is better suited for the tree’s structure. This can help to prevent the chances of a dangerous situation later in the tree’s life.
When Is It Best to Prune?
Homeowners should prune their trees and shrubs in the late fall or winter, during the dormant season. The only exception to this rule is in the case of a limb that is broken or susceptible to breaking and hurting someone.
Just as is the case with any living thing, trees and shrubs are prone to stress, and removing branches does damage a plant. However, when a plant is dormant, there is less sap, and since a tree is dormant, fungus and insects are far less likely to cause further damage to a plant. Different species of trees and shrubs require pruning that is more precise than others and different approaches for correct pruning. Any homeowner who finds themselves in doubt over what kind of pruning they should do should call a professional for help.
Less is Best
When pruning a tree or shrub, homeowners should observe the old rule, “Less is best,” or even better, “When in doubt, quit.” It is far better to quit pruning before you think you should than to prune too much and end up killing the tree.
Generally, speaking, it is best to prune the least amount you can that achieves the effect you are after. Don’t cut off more than one-quarter of the uppermost branches or the crown of a tree. This is where most of the leaves are located, and as a result, most of the energy is generated for the plant. Cutting more than one-quarter of the crown will damage the tree. Trees and shrubs can make or break the exterior design of a home. For this reason, any homeowner who has doubts about their ability to prune trees and plants should call a professional for help.