How Do You Know What To Prune On A Tree?

If you're attempting to get trees ready for spring or otherwise cut them back, the question of what exactly you're supposed to remove can be a nerve-wracking one. When you haven't cared for trees before, even removing a leaf can raise many questions, like where exactly are you supposed to cut the leaf stem, and what else do you have to prune? Pruning a tree is not a haphazard job where you cut random things off the tree.

It Depends on the Purpose    

First, you need to understand why you're pruning the tree. If you want really good fruit in an orchard, you'll be removing extra blossoms. If you want to train the tree into a certain shape, you'll prune twigs and the ends of branches to create the outline you want. If you want to remove old growth before the new growing season, you'll concentrate on twigs before they start leafing out. If you have had fungal issues with the tree before and have been told you need to increase airflow in the canopy, you'd look for twigs growing in toward the center of the canopy and not those growing out or up. 

It Depends on the Time of Year

Most pruning on trees has to be done in late fall or winter, and early spring at best. This pruning, done to remove old growth and tidy the shape of the tree, makes way for new growth and stops taking resources and nutrition that old growth doesn't need. Look for withered twigs and small branches; if a medium or large branch looks bad, call a tree service for an evaluation.

The only pruning done outside that timeframe is when there is a broken, dead, or diseased branch that needs to be removed for safety reasons. Those really need to be removed by a tree service, which will ensure that all of the diseased/dead parts will be removed, with nothing left lingering.

It Depends on What You Need to Remove

This kind of ties into knowing the purpose of your pruning session, but it's a little more detailed. For example, if your purpose is to encourage bigger, healthier fruit on a fruit tree, you already know that you need to remove extra blossoms. So now that you know you need to remove those, what exactly do you remove? Smaller, weaker blossoms should go, and on branches where the blossoms all seem to be the same size, removing every other blossom from clumps of blossoms is one example. All you have to do is pinch off the blossom at its base. If you're pruning twigs that are growing into the center of the tree's canopy, cut them back to a node or bud and cut just a little bit above that node or bud.

If you're unsure what to cut, call a tree service to handle the pruning. And, if the tree is tall, you definitely need to call a tree service as they have the necessary equipment to safely prune away everything that needs to be cut.

To learn more, contact a tree technician