Pruning Trees At Planting
Not all transplants need pruning. First, study the tree as you also take the time to remove all identification tags and wires from the trunk and main branches, so that they will not cut into the tree and limbs. Now follow these guidelines.
Container grown and balled and burlapped trees need only corrective pruning. Make sure that the tree has a clear leader and that the form is pleasing.
Bare-root trees have suffered considerable root loss, so removing some small top growth will be necessary to compensate for the loss of roots. In most cases, you should remove about one-third of the branch area.
Before you prune, however, it is very important to keep in mind the natural form of the tree. What should your tree look like when it is mature? If you understand the form of the tree species and its particular branching structure, you can maintain and encourage that form as you prune. Pruning while the tree is young will get the tree off to a good start, and may help avoid major corrective pruning later on.
In general terms, pruning should ensure a good leader, strong branches and uniform shape. Pruning cannot change a tree’s natural growth pattern, as it will always try to reflect the species natural form. A tree that is not allowed to grow into its natural shape, will look forever strange, out of balance, and be a distraction in the landscape instead of an enhancement. Pruning should augment each species special characteristics.
With the tree’s mature form in mind, first remove broken branches, double leaders, water sprouts, crossing branches and any branches that interfere with the tree’s structure. Side branches of trees with a central leader should be evenly spaced up and down the trunk, with only one branch originating at the same height or directly above another. When pruning branches, always cut back either to a side branch or to a bud that is pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow.
When it comes to making correct pruning cuts, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Well-placed, cleanly executed cuts, in just the right place will result in a rapid healing of the tissue. The Extension Office has bulletins available with excellent illustrations of how and where to make pruning cuts. Please call us.