There are many reasons to prune newly planted trees. Pruning helps maintain size, encourages healthy limbs, promotes flower and fruit development, and generally prolongs life expectancy, when done correctly. Not all trees require heavy pruning, and many benefit from light, seasonal trimming. They key to pruning is to understand the needs of your particular tree and to develop a consistent annual pruning routine.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Avoid the temptation to over-prune young trees. Training should take place over a 3-5 year period."
Pruning always begins the dormant season following planting. Failure to prune a young tree results in weak trunk and stem development and leaves the tree susceptible to disease and weather damage.
Use only sharp and sterilized pruning tools. Dirty tools can transmit disease while dull tools can cause damage to the tree.
TIP: Susan emphasizes, "Always sterilize pruning tools before making any cuts."
Prune for Looks
It is important to trim young trees if you wish them to be aesthetically pleasing. Many trees, left unpruned, do not develop properly and are unsightly.
TIP: Susan cautions you, "Do not remove too many lateral branches on young trees as they are necessary for strong trunk development and also to protect the trunk from sun scald."
Prune for Health
Prune young trees to remove crossing branches, any dead branches and any branches that are touching each other. Remove multiple leaders where a single leader is desired.
Courtesy of the US Dept. of Agriculture