Tips for Pruning Young Trees
Correct pruning technique is essential to developing a tree with a strong structure and an appealing shape. While you might think that pruning a young tree could be harmful to its growth, it’s actually better for the tree to have corrective pruning from the outset, with more structural pruning introduced in the second or third year. A small tree requires smaller cuts, resulting in less overall damage, and corrective pruning from an early stage means your tree shouldn’t require drastic alterations when it is more advanced.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Before you pick up the secateurs, be sure of your plan. Every cut should have a purpose. Even small wounds will scar and become a permanent part of the tree so should not be made unless they are needed.
- Invest in some decent equipment. For small cuts, hand secateurs should be sufficient so long as they are kept sharp. Lopping shears or a pruning saw should be used for cuts larger than 1.3 cm in diameter.
- The goal is to create a tree with sturdy, well-placed branches that will eventually provide the main framework for the mature tree. Limbs that grow at odd angles or crossover with other branches can weaken the tree’s structure. Ideally, you should remove structurally weak or damaged limbs while retaining the tree’s natural shape. Some tree species naturally grow more regularly spaced branches while others will require more routine pruning.
- If you have to remove an entire branch, always be sure to make the cut just outside of the branch collar to avoid damaging the tree’s trunk. Do not cut close to the trunk – you should be able to see where the branch used to be.
- If a large branch needs to be shortened, prune it back to the point where a secondary branch sprouts or a bud has formed. Cutting at the halfway point could lead to stem decay or misdirected growth.
- For most trees, you want to encourage a single dominant ‘leader’ branch. This is generally the branch growing straight up from the young tree’s trunk, which will eventually become trunk itself as the tree matures. Never prune the tip of this branch or allow other branches to outgrow it. If your tree develops two co-dominant stems then in most cases one should be removed to prevent the tree from becoming structurally unstable. However, with species such as Eucalypts, co-dominant stems are the norm, which is why it’s important to do some research on your tree’s species before starting!
- As it grows, consider the location and purpose of the tree when making your pruning choices. For example, low hanging branches can cause problems if there will be foot traffic beneath the tree or you need to be able to manoeuvre the lawn mower around the trunk. If the tree is being used for privacy or as a windbreak, then lower branches and denser foliage should be encouraged.
By following these tips, you should have no trouble moulding your young trees into beautiful specimens. However, if you require some professional guidance then Dickies Trees does offer pruning as part of our services across Perth.
Give our friendly team a call on 9249 4077 to discuss your tree and garden requirements.