The benefits of trees in landscaping go beyond air purification and oxygen production; trees can lower bills, increase property value, and even reduce the crime rate. Trees reduce heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars and well cared for trees increase property value by up to 20%. Pruning is the most common maintenance for tree care to remove dead branches, improve structure, and reduce the risks to the tree’s health. Tree growth is maximized when pruning is done annually before the spring growth starts.
How to prune a tree
The first step to pruning is to consider the reason and purpose before any cuts are made. Cleaning is the removal of dead or damaged branches, while thinning is selective branch removal to improve structure. Rising is the removal of lower branches for clearance, and reduction reduces branches for utility lines. When cutting branches over one and a half inches in diameter, use a three-cut method. First make an undercut between six to twelve inches from the trunk about one-third of the way through. Then cut from the top three inches from the undercut to remove the branch, and cut the stub back to the branch collar.
Making cuts in a certain order reduces the number of overall cuts needed. Remove dead or damaged branches by cutting back to their point of origin or a strong lateral, or intersecting, branch which may open the canopy and not require any more cuts. Cut lateral branches back to a branch with a 45-degree angle or less with a diameter of at least half of the branch being removed. Training cuts are then made on lateral branches to develop the desired shape according to the tree’s natural growth pattern. Branches which grow upward should be cut slanted to prevent water buildup slowing down wound healing.
The consequences of not pruning are low aggressive branches, weak stems, bark inclusion, and dead branches. All of these endanger the health of a tree and regular pruning can reduce these risks. Proper pruning promotes sound structure, reduces the risk of failure, provides clearance, improves looks, and promotes long life. Pruning properly is well worth the effort to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful yard.