How to prune a tree

Maintaining your tree efficiently means preventing the branches from overgrowing. If you don’t do this frequently enough, your trees will not only become messy and unpleasant to look at, but there’s also a risk that they’ll become a serious hazard, especially if they’re reaching over fences into neighbouring gardens or growing dangerously close to buildings in the surrounding area.

Actively pruning your trees will help to prevent any potential dangers your tree could cause whilst also enhancing the appearance of your garden. If done correctly, pruning can even make your trees healthier, as it allows for dying or overgrown branches to be removed, encouraging the growth of the remaining healthy branches.

The only thing to be wary of when pruning is that you’re doing it correctly, as it would be a shame to waste time and potentially damage your tree by getting this wrong. Giving you the lowdown on pruning, this post will help you to make sure that your tree flourishes.Man pruning a tree using a lopper.

How to prune trees correctly

Prior to cutting anything on your tree, it’s important to establish why you’re looking to prune it. Every reason is met by an appropriate technique, so it really depends on whether you’re pruning your tree to reduce the amount of shade in your garden, decrease the height or enhance the appearance of your tree, or to remove all overgrown branches to make it healthier.

To envisage how you want your tree to look after pruning, it would be best to look at it beforehand and plan what you will be cutting off. At this stage, you can also establish where the main skeleton of the tree is, as this part should be avoided to allow for the tree to grow naturally.

Your main priority is to remove any branches that look damaged or unhealthy first, as these parts may be at risk of breaking. Getting rid of these branches first is good for your tree, as the water and nutrients within will be distributed to other branches that need them.

It would then be important to look at potential hazards that you could neutralise through pruning, with the main one being cutting down any branches that edge towards fences, buildings or powerlines. You’re now able to be more selective with what you prune. For example, you could consider getting rid of any branches that cross other branches and any sections that are overpopulated with branches, preventing any potential issues with the tree’s circulation of water and nutrients.

A lot of trees that have been professionally pruned will present an oval design, but it’s rare that this is something created naturally. It’s a common misconception that a tree will completely regrow as long as there’s a stump, with it actually being important that you keep hold of as much of the tree as possible.

Every time you open up a section of the tree by removing a branch, you’re increasing the risk of insects and fungus entering it, in the same way that an open wound is at risk of infection in a human. With this in mind, it would be strongly advised to avoid trimming more than 25 per cent of the tree’s branches and to be sparing with how much you choose to remove.

When to prune trees

Believe it or not, when you choose to prune your trees is a massive factor in the tree’s growth and development. Any changes to the tree will lead to a different reaction, so it’s important to identify what type of change you’re hoping for before you make any major alterations to it.

Pruning your tree in a specific season will lead to a different outcome in the following season. For example, if you were to trim your tree in the summer, the growth of the branch you pruned will be slowed down in the autumn. This would be an appropriate course of action if you were hoping to reduce the size of your tree during this season, especially as it would decrease the number of leaves shed during autumn.

The whole process works in reverse too, meaning that if you were to prune your tree in the winter, your tree would be likely to flourish in the spring, with the branches and leaves growing at an accelerated rate.

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