Pruning deciduous trees: A guide to successful pruning

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By StevenGadson

Anatomy of a Deciduous tree

Deciduous trees are those that shed their leaves each year. You should be familiar with the anatomy and supporting framework of deciduous trees before you begin any Pruning deciduous trees.

The trunk, scaffold branches and lateral branches make up the above-ground portion of a tree. The vertical stem at the top is the leader. Scaffold branches form the tree’s canopy. Secondary branches that grow from scaffold branches are called laterals. The growth comes from the buds at the ends of branches (terminal buds) or along branch sides.

Suckers and water sprouts are two forms of vigorous shoot growth that are generally undesirable. Water sprouts are found along branches. The trunk or roots are where suckers grow.

Picture how branches attach to the trunk when pruning. The branch collar is the swollen region of trunk tissue around the base of a tree. The branch bark ridge, which is a line of rough bark that runs from the branch-trunk trunk crotch to the trunk bark and is less prominent in some trees than others, is the branch bark ridge.

What to prune

Corrective pruning is used to remove damaged wood and rubbing branches. Cut down to healthy wood well below diseased or dead branches when pruning. Use products such as Lysol, Listerine, or rubbing alcohol to clean your tools after each cut. It has been proven that household bleach and Pine-Sol are extremely corrosive to metal tools.

As soon as possible, remove rubbing branches or poorly placed branches. Water sprouts and suckers can always hinder normal growth.

Young tree pruning can be used for prevention and training to prevent potential problems from occurring. Choose permanent scaffold branches that attach to the trunk at wide angles. A weak point in the future is indicated by branch attachment angles that are too narrow. Make sure that branches are equally spaced (10-12 inches) and that they are arranged around the trunk. Do not allow one limb to shade another. If multi-stemmed trees are desired, train trees to be single leaders.

If a tree’s leader has been damaged by storms or disease, you can replace it by attaching a lateral to the highest scaffold. This will allow you to place the lateral vertically. All laterals should be pruned immediately below the leader. You can use flexible wire splints or wood, and remove them after one growing season.

Prune trees to change their natural growth habits. Leave terminal buds on scaffold branches for a more open-minded tree. However, reduce or eliminate all laterals to make the tree more open. If the tree is taller than 8 feet, you can remove any branches above 8 feet. Reduce the number of scaffold branches by half and prune any outward-facing buds. This will make your tree more compact.

How to prune

There are two main types of pruning cuts that you can make: heading and thinning. To reduce the tree’s height, make heading cuts by removing terminal buds and cutting back lateral branches. Heading cuts encourage growth of buds nearest to the cut. Direction of new growth will depend on the direction that the last lateral bud points. To avoid encouraging unwanted water sprouts or suckers, don’t make heading cuts (also known as topping) on branches older than one year. Topping or heading can also cause disfigurement in older trees and compromise tree structure. It can also expose large areas of barewood to insects and disease.

Thinning cuts are used to remove branches from their point of origin or attachment. Thinning is when you cut a branch or prune a branch off the trunk. Thinning cuts encourage growth in the whole tree rather than just one branch, like heading cuts. Drop crotching is a type thinning cut that reduces the tree’s size but allows it to keep its natural shape. Drop crotch is achieved by selecting and cutting higher branches to the laterals of the limbs that are being removed. Thinning has many benefits, including better air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Pruning should be done correctly. To make heading cuts on young branches, you should cut 1/4 inch above the lateral buds, sloping away from the bud. Cut at a steep angle or too close to the bud, as this can cause it to die. If you are thinning larger branches, make sure to cut the branch collar at 45-60 degrees from the branch bark ridge. To speed up healing and prevent decay from entering your trunk, leave the branch collar intact.