6 Pruning Tips for the Most Common Tree Types

Proper tree care, including pruning, keeps trees as healthy and attractive as possible. All trees can fall into one of two very broad categories, deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous trees loose their leaves seasonally while evergreen trees stay green all year long. Examples of deciduous trees include oak, maple, ash and hickory. Evergreen trees include, but are not limited to, cedars, cypress, hollies, pines and hemlocks. Some trees have both evergreen and deciduous varieties.

While some trees require extensive pruning, others, such as arborvitaes, do not necessarily need to be pruned apart from controlling size. It is important to understand the pruning needs of your particular tree before creating a pruning schedule. Over-pruning, often results in injury, as it does with magnolia trees, while under-pruning may inhibit growth and flowering of certain species. Although you must pay attention to special pruning requirements of certain trees, some general pruning guidelines apply to most common landscape and garden trees. Follow these simple tips in order to achieve the best pruning results.

Tip 1: Always Use Sharp Pruning Tools

Using dull or rusted pruning tools is likely to result in injury to the tree, not to mention the fact that it will make your job a lot harder. Keep pruning tools sharp by using them only for their desired purpose and having them sharpened before the beginning of each season. High-quality pruning shears last for many years as long as they are kept sharp.

Tip 2: Sterilize Pruning Tools

Infection and disease spread rapidly when pruning tools are not sterilized. Before pruning any tree always, sterilize pruning tools in a bucket with hydrogen peroxide for at least twenty minutes before using.

Tip 3: Remove Broken, Damaged or Diseased Limbs First

Always remove damaged, diseased or broken limbs first. Trees with heavy fruit or flowers, such as crepe myrtles, may suffer from broken limbs more easily than other trees.

Tip 4: Step Back Often to Check Pruning Progress

One of the easiest things to do when pruning a tree is to cut too much. It is difficult to gauge the degree of pruning when you are standing close to a tree. Keep this in mind when you are pruning and be sure to step back often to assess your progress. It may be easier to ask someone to help assess your work as you go. This is especially true of trees such as weeping cherry that are best left a little untamed.

Tip 5: Pruning Technique

When pruning branches, always make your cut as close as possible to the tree stem without damaging the bark or branch collar. Make the cut just above the branch collar so that you do not injure the trunk. Cuts should angle down and away from the trunk.

Tip 6: Discard of all Pruned Wood

In order to avoid the spread of disease, it is imperative to pick up and discard of all limbs. Burning is the best method, especially if the tree is diseased or infested with insects.