A Myth About Tree Pruning

Many people believe that pruning should be only done when the tree sap is up or down and that the best time to do tree pruning is in the fall. In reality, it is more important how you prune your tree than when.

tree pruning

There are some basic rules that need to be followed when pruning a tree and it is important to take into consideration that making incorrect cuts can cause damage to your tree for its lifetime.

Primarily, you always want to always make the smallest diameter cuts as possible to prevent diseases and pests from invading the wound. By cutting outside of the branch collar, you achieve much smaller wounds than flush cuts.

Always stick to the 25% rule and never prune more than that amount of foliage off of the tree. Taking more foliage than this will hinder a tree’s ability to grow, as leaves are a tree’s source of food for growth.

Knowing your tree species and its growth pattern is important in pruning because different trees require different pruning needs. For instance, a Red Maple (link to tree of the month Red Maple) has a rounded canopy and develop thick branches that become as large as the trunk (also known as codominant leads-link to codominant leaders in trees) which create sharp angles and weak branch unions, while a Pin Oak generally has one dominant lead with a very dense branching structure. These two very different trees call for different pruning requirements. 

Pruning in winter is a good idea. In our area, trees generally go dormant from November through February. Although the leaves have fallen, we can still tell what is dead and what is alive on the tree. In the winter we can get a great view of the branching structure for each individual tree.

When we are able to prune in winter, we can be sure to avoid diseases that affect trees in the warmer months such as Dutch elm disease and oak wilt. Pests are also not a common issue in the winter months and we can eliminate the risk of vascular disease from insects which is a common problem for trees with open wounds in the summer months.

Call us today to get on our winter pruning schedule.