How to Have Hearty and High-Reaching Trees

How To Prune Deciduous Trees

If you have deciduous trees growing on your land, routine pruning is important to help keep them healthy and control their height and spread.  If the trees aren't too large, you could prune them yourself, although any particularly tall, large-limbed trees are best left to a professional arborist.

For those gardeners planning to take the DIY route, here's a brief guide to pruning deciduous trees:

Reasons for pruning deciduous trees

It's important to prune deciduous trees in order to remove dead, diseased or broken branches.  Keeping the branches thinned out will encourage better air circulation and allow more light into the tree's canopy.  This will promote healthier growth of foliage, blossom and fruit.

In the case of larger trees, branches may overhang buildings, neighbouring properties or power lines posing a risk of damage.

Which trees to prune

Newly-planted or young trees do not require pruning unless a branch is diseased, broken or dead.  Growing trees need all their foliage in order to produce enough sugars for growth.  After a few years, you can prune the tree to help keep it in shape.  Branches that cross over should be removed, together with lower branches to help raise the tree's canopy.  Root suckers that emerge at the base of the trunk should also be taken out.

Older, more established trees will need tidying up periodically to keep them healthy and in good shape.  A certified arborist should be contracted to lop large branches and to fell large trees that are dangerously close to power cables or buildings.   

How to prune established deciduous trees

A sharp saw should always be used for pruning.  If the blade is blunt, pruning will not only be harder work for the operative, it will also damage the tree and will split the wood rather than cutting smoothly through it.  Always disinfect your blade after each pruning cut so that you reduce the risk of spreading disease from one part of the tree to another.

Begin by selecting the branch you want to take down.  Make your first cut underneath the branch away from the trunk.  This avoids placing weight on the branch collar which could tear the tree's bark and open up a potential entry point for disease or pests.  Make the cut about half way through the width of the branch.

Make the next cut to the outside of the first, further away from the trunk.  Cut right through the limb, starting at the top to remove the weight of the branch. 

Complete the operation by making a final cut next to the tree trunk, but on the outside of the branch collar.  Cut from the top down, all the way through the branch.  This method allows the tree to heal the wound stump quickly and naturally.

Wound treatments

Although there are a large number of wound closure treatments available in DIY stores, it is not advised to use them.  The compounds contained in tree paint or wound dressings actually retard healing and can also trap diseases inside the branch stump.  Instead, just leave the wound open to the air and allow the tree's natural healing processes to do the rest.  

When to carry out pruning

The best time to prune deciduous trees is in the late autumn or early winter months when they are dormant.  At this time of year, the tree's canopy of leaves has fallen making it easier to see the branch structure.  Also, the majority of pests and disease-causing bacterial organisms are not active at this time. 

Pruning in the late winter or early spring is not recommended.  At this time of year, the tree is producing sap and is actively growing.  Not only does this excessive 'bleeding' look unsightly, it also takes the tree longer to heal the wound, making it easier for destructive organisms to enter.

In conclusion

Pruning your deciduous trees is a relatively simple process providing they are not too big. Large trees with big, heavy branches will require professional attention by a trained and suitably-equipped arborist. 

Contact a company such as Agility Professional Tree Service Pty Ltd to learn more.