If you have a few trees on your property, it is important to trim them regularly. This ensures dead and decaying branches are removed before they get a chance to spread infections to the still-healthy branches. It also helps prevent the branches from getting too dense and trapping too much moisture. But pruning is a bit more complicated than just snipping off a few branches and leaving others alone. Here are four pruning tips to ensure you make the most of your trimming.
Remove the dead branches, and then the older branches.
Start by trimming away any dead branches. Then, proceed to pruning away branches that seem to be overlapping one another or creating pockets that are too dense. When you come across two overlapping or interfering branches, always prune away the older of the two. To tell which branch is older, look at the wood. The darker, browner, and dryer the bark, the older the branch.
Never trim away more than 1/4 of the tree's branches in a season.
If the tree still looks a bit misshapen or dense after you believe you've trimmed away 1/4 of the branches, then you'll just have to deal with it for now and trim it again in a year. Taking away too many branches at once can shock the tree, causing it to die back or contract an infection due to weakened immunity.
Try to maintain a single trunk.
This mostly comes into play when you're trimming younger trees that are still developing their shape. If a mature tree has a split trunk, there's not much you can do about it. But if you're pruning an older tree, try to trim away branches that look like they're going to form huge second limbs, aiming to create an upright tree with a single main leader.
Leave a nub.
Do not trim the branches away so that they are flush with the trunk. While this may be what looks tidiest, the vascular tissue is very densely packed at the base of the branch where it meets the trunk. If you cut through this area, the tree will "bleed" out a lot of sap. It's a much safer idea to cut about a half inch away from the base of the branch. The little nubs you leave behind won't be obvious from a few feet away, and they'll protect the tree from losing too much sap.
For more tree-pruning tips, contact professional companies like General Tree Service.