How to prune a tree | Tree Service

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

The slight swelling where branch meets trunk is called the "branch collar." Cutting just outside the collar will allow specialized cells to form a liplike seal around the wound. If the collar is removed,as in a "flish" cut, the wound perimeter remains wide open to infection. Do not paint the cut. Do not leave the "stub" of branches, before making cut, make an undercut to prevent tear, and then cut to sever the branch.


Pruning. A well-selected, quality tree will usually have evenly spaced branches along the trunk and clear, strong leader continuing up from the trunk should be strong, without seams or cracks, even if closely angled.


Pyramidal conifers do not like pruning, but new outer growth can be trimmed in spring. For other tree types, pruning is done to correct abnormalities, eliminate dead or diseased parts, thin and dense crown, and saved off structural problems. Trees are also shaped to allow for pedestrian or traffic clearance. Bad pruning is the cure that kills, opening the tree to infection.




Broken branches can be clipped off at planting. After full season (but preferably not in fall), corrective pruning can eliminate crossing branches, "watershoots" that rise vertically from a branch, suckers from the trunk base, cramped branches, competing leader shoot, and other problems. Thinning a dense crown can allow strong winds to pass through or help circulate light and air. Too much thinning can debilitate and eventually destroy the tree. One must know exactly what one is doing, for one' own safety and the tree's wellness. Would-be pruners need expert instruction, but even casual tree observers should know to pruning principles: A tree should never be "topped" -sheared horizontally at the top of its crown-for any reason. If height or shape is a problem, nonmutilating trimming techniques are available. Another form of tree abuse is the shearing of a whole side, as unenlightened utility workers are wont to do. Branches should be pruned just outside the "branch collar," not flush to the trunk.


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