On Saturday I broadcast a training on the pruning of young shade trees to enable development of strong, healthy tree structure. We frequently overlook this important step in yard development. Here are a few tips from that training to help you improve the life and longevity of your trees.
The most common reason to prune large trees is to reduce the risk of tree failure. This includes removing defective branches and those damaged by a storm. A properly trained tree will not have much need of this type of pruning later in life. Begin training when the tree is young and newly established, and you are making an investment in the future.
Foundation facts to help you when preparing to train young ornamental trees:
· The size of pruning wounds affects the speed at which they seal over.
· Trees don’t heal like animal bodies repair; they cover wounds and isolate them from the rest of the tree.
· Pruning does not stop growth, it redirects it.
· A limb will always be the same height off the ground from when it originated
· Avoid removing more than 20% of the foliage
· Topping is to be avoided
· Do not treat wounds with any sort of paint or tree wound dressing
Guiding Principles when developing your trees:
· Maintain a central leader. Split leaders are one of the leading causes of tree failure later.
· Develop your scaffold branches with both horizonal and lateral balance. Depending on the mature size of the tree, these should be 1-2 feet apart vertically on the trunk.
· Avoid sharp angles between trunk and branches. 45-60 degrees is ideal. A narrow crotch angle will create included bark and prevent the tree from developing a strong connection between trunk and branch.
· Don’t remove more than 1/3 of the total branches vertically on the trunk. As the tree grows, you will eventually select a lowest permanent branch.
· Large branches require you to follow the 3-cut rule to prevent the stripping of bark below the branch upon cutting.
· Learn where the branch collar is and avoid cutting into it. This ensures a speedy seal of the cut.
Follow these steps to training young shade trees:
1. Walk around the whole tree to orient yourself
2. Remove Damaged, Diseased, Dead
3. Select a leader and remove or reduce competing leaders
4. Select lowest permanent branch
5. Select scaffold branches and remove or reduce competing branches
6. Select temporary branches below lowest permanent branch