When you plant young trees, pruning is an essential technique for developing its structure and aesthetics. What do you do to your newly planted trees will affect its shape, strength, and its life span. Pruning young trees can be tricky, but this guide should make the process a little easier.
If you have just recently planted the tree ( < 1 year), the objective should be allowing the tree to strengthen and expand its roots. In this case, only remove damaged or dead limbs, and leave the tree as intact as possible. After the first year you can start pruning to strengthen its form.
How to Prune
- Make a small wedge cut on the underside of the branch you have selected. The break in the bark in this initial cut will prevent a tear from running along the stem. Do not cut all the way through the branch.
- Cut farther along the branch. (About 1-2 inches up the branch ) Cut all the way through the branch. This will leave you with a stub
- Making the third and final cut. This cut will be BELOW the first cut but ABOVE the stem collar to reduce the length of the stub.
Keys to Pruning Young Trees for Strength and Form
- Pruning early on in a tree’s life will allow it to heal from the wounds. Making noticeable
- Leave temporary branches. Temporary branches can protect the young bark from injury and can strengthen the trunk. These branches can be left for 3-4 years, just don’t let them become large and vigorous.
- Thinning and Spacing – Thinning is removing some branches that compete for light and space. Try to keep the lateral branches spaced 8-12 inches apart on a young tree.
- Remove Rubbing Branches. If the limbs are rubbing together, there is an increased risk for wounds, decay, and notches. Remove one of the offending branches.
- I.D. the best leader and lateral branches. You should attempt to find branches that form a 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock angles with the trunk.
- When shortening the a smaller branch, make the cute at a lateral bud. Cut the branch to that you favor a bud that will produce a branch that grows in desired direction. (Outward)
- Keep your sheers sharp. The cut should be sharp and clean. Make sure to cut at slight angle about 1/4 inch beyond the bud.
When you are pruning young trees, you want to promote a strong scaffold structure, with a strong central trunk and sturdy, well spaced branches. If they are pruned correctly at a young age, mature trees will be much easier to maintain. the mature trees will require less corrective pruning.