A General Guide for Pruning Shade Trees


Pruning shade trees is easy with this helpful guide on how to prune shade trees. Pruning shade trees is a task that needs to be done when your shade tree become too large, weak, diseased, or injured. You will find valuable information and facts on all aspects of pruning shade trees.

"Pruning Shade Trees"

Find tips on pruning shade trees

Training young shade trees properly helps develop strong, healthy, older trees. When you select a tree at the nursery, look for a straight trunk with well-placed branches. Avoid any tree with one-sided growth or sporadic branch placement.

Pruning Young Shade Trees

On young trees in the landscape, remove branches that are weak, dead, or rubbing, or have narrow crotches. Strong older branches develop from young branches with at least a 45-degree angle between the trunk and branch.

Pruning Older Shade Trees

Prune older shade trees to remove dead, diseased, dying, or dangerous branches first. Next remove branches rubbing against other branches or structures. Finally, thin to ensure the tree is not becoming lopsided.

Safety: Avoid pruning any part of a tree within 10 ft. of electrical lines, and avoid using a metal ladder or metal pole pruner near electrical lines.

General Pruning Techniques

Proper branch removal is critical to the health of the tree. A flush cut to the base of the branch used to be the accepted method of branch removal. More recent research shows that a flush cut causes damage and decay in the trunk. A better method of branch removal is called a collar cut.

Most trees develop a collar, or swollen area, where the branch attaches to the trunk.

Make a smooth cut through the branch at the edge of the collar. Cut parallel to the outer edge of the collar. With a proper cut, a callus covers the wound in a short time. A callus is the way a plant repairs a damaged area and keeps disease and decay organisms from invading the exposed cut surface.

Some branches don’t show a definite collar, and inexperienced gardeners may cut several inches farther out on the branch than they should. To avoid a dead branch stub, make a cut from the top of the branch where it attaches to the main stem or trunk, angling outward to the bottom of the branch. The proper angle is usually half that of the angle of branch attachment to the main stem.

Tips to Remember when Pruning

  • Shade trees with two leaders split easily in storms because of a weak crotch. Remove weaker leaders.
  • Remove lower branches for easy access to the areas under the tree.
  • Collar cuts will callus over quickly and cause no trunk damage.
  • Flush cuts will promote disease and cause decay in the trunk.
  • A 45 degree branch angle is much stronger than a narrow angle.

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