The main reason for pruning is to produce strong, healthy, attractive plant.
Other Reasons for Pruning
Pruning can be used to encourage fruit production and increase the value of timber. Pruning for safety (Fig. 1A) involves removing branches that could fall and cause injury or property damage, trimming branches that interfere with lines of sight on streets or driveways, and removing branches that grow into utility lines.
Pruning for health involves removing diseased or insect-infested branches. Removing broken or damaged limbs encourages wound closure.
Pruning for aesthetics involve stimulating flower production. Pruning for form can be especially important on open-grown trees that do very little self-pruning.
To reduce the need for pruning it is best to consider a tree's natural form. It is very difficult to impose an unnatural form on a tree without a commitment to constant maintenance.
Examples include pruning trees annually to remove all new growth. The following year, a whole lot of new branches is produced at the ends of the branches. Other forms involve pruning trees and shrubs into geometric or animal shapes. The are special applications that involve pruning to change the natural form of trees. As we can see from the seconf example, given enough care and attention, plants can be pruned into nearly any form. Yet just as proper pruning can enhance the form or character of plants, improper pruning can destroy it.
Producing strong structure should be the goal when pruning young trees. Proper pruning cuts are made at a node, the point at which one branch or twig attaches to another.
The most common types of pruning are:
1. Crown Thinning
2. Crown Raising
3. Crown Reduction
Pruning cuts should be made so that only branch tissue is removed and stem tissue is not damaged.
Pruning Practices That Harm Trees
Topping and tipping are pruning practices that harm trees and should not be used. Crown reduction pruning is the preferred method to reduce the size or height of the crown of a tree, but is rarely needed and should be used infrequently. Topping, the pruning of large upright branches between nodes, is sometimes done to reduce the height of a tree
. Tipping is the practice of cutting lateral branches between nodes to reduce crown width. Figure 7. Practices that harm trees
When to Prune:
Trees and shrubs that flower in early spring (redbud, dogwood, etc.) should be pruned immediately after flowering (flower buds arise the year before they flush, and will form on the new growth).
- Many flowering trees are prone to diseases that can be spread by pruning. These trees should be pruned during the dormant season. Check with your horticulturist for additional information.
- Trees and shrubs that flower in the summer or fall always should be pruned during the dormant season (flower buds will form on new twigs during the next growing season, and the flowers will flush normally).
Dead branches: can be removed any time of the year.
Proper tools are important for good pruning. The choice of which tool to use depends largely on the size of branches to be pruned and the amount of pruning to be done. If possible, test a tool before you buy it to ensure it suits your specific needs.