4 Tips For Pruning Established Trees

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Pruning a young tree isn't too difficult – it's mostly a matter of treading lightly and using sharp tree shears on the small branches. Pruning an established tree is a little trickier. Prune your large, established tree so it continues to blend with your landscape.

Determine Whether Pruning Is Necessary

Just because a tree is growing wildly doesn't mean it's in need of pruning. Trees grow in the wild, and a flourishing tree is usually a sign of good health. However, sometimes even a healthy plant needs cutting back. According to horticulturist Douglas F. Welsh, the main reasons for pruning include maintaining plant health and improving the quality of flowers and fruit. Similarly, depending on your yard, pruning may be necessary to train the plant or restrict its growth so it blends with your landscape design.

Decide When to Prune

Once you've determined pruning is necessary, it's a matter of deciding on a time. If you're pruning for safety – meaning overhanging branches can fall and injure someone – or to remove dead wood, any time is appropriate. Simply ensure you have the proper equipment, and observe safety rules such as not pruning near electrical wires.

If you're pruning for aesthetics or tree improvement, though, this usually happens when the tree is dormant. Wait until the coldest part of winter has passed but you're not in spring yet. February or March is appropriate for most locales.

Enhance the Crown

When pruning an established tree, the goal is usually to enhance the natural form of the tree. This can involve crown raising or crown reducing.

If you have a large tree with many low-hanging branches, you may need some crown raising. This means you'll be deciding on how much clearance you want between the ground and the lowest branches of the tree. Any branches in that space get pruned away.

If your tall tree is starting to dominate the landscape, crown reduction is necessary. For this technique, locate the branches directly above the highest lateral branches. These are the branches you'll remove, making sure you don't leave any stubs.

Consult the Experts

Again, if you're working with a young tree, the stakes aren't too high. However, when it comes to pruning an established tree, you should consider all the years – even decades – that went into that tree's growth. In other words, it's a good idea to get expert advice before approaching this majestic tree with pruning tools.

A well-trimmed tree adds beauty to your yard and home. Talk to a tree trimming expert like Tidd Tree about how you want the tree to fit into your landscape and any safety or health concerns you have. They'll advise you on how to best proceed