Pruning can be intimidating. Many of us fear making a mistake our plants won’t recover from. Overall, trees are resilient; with a little practice and know-how, any gardener should be able to tackle this task. Here are some things to keep in mind before grabbing the saw.
Removing dead limbs and improving the overall structure of the tree are the top reasons to prune. If you are consistently pruning to control size, think about replacing the tree with something that is more in scale with your landscape.
Pruning can affect flowering if it is done at the wrong time of year. It is best to prune spring-flowering trees shortly after they finish blooming, while trees that bloom in summer and fall should be pruned before substantial new growth begins in spring.
Spring-flowering trees often occupy prime garden real estate, but for some easy, unexpected floral elegance, it is truly worthwhile to plant trees that bloom in summer, fall, or even late winter.
Less pruning can lead to overall slower growth, which can be desirable for the overall long-term health of the tree.
Branches larger than your thumb should be cut using a three-step pruning method.
Andy Pulte, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the plant sciences department at the University of Tennessee.
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