Caring for Your Trees
Pruning Your Trees
Many times trees are "topped" when they grow into utility wires, interfere with views or sunlight, or grow so large that they worry the homeowner. However, cutting back the main branches of a tree to the stubs in incredibly detrimental to its health and may kill the tree. Further, the ugly, bushy limbs that grow in place of the topped off area usually grow back higher than the original branches, defeating any benefit of the procedure. Proper pruning will remove excess growth without the problems created by topping. Such tasks should be left to professional arborists. As a rule of thumb, never remove more than one-fourth of a tree's crown in a season.
For smaller jobs near ground level, the diagram below shows the proper place to make a cut so as to maximize the tree's ability to heal. The branch collar (on the underside of the base of the branch) and the branch bark ridge (where the branch meets the trunk) are critical tissues which the tree needs to heal after the cut. The cut should be just outside these tissues. Making the cut too far along the branch will leave a stub which invites disease. However, for bigger branches, it is often a good idea to make a three step cut:
- First, make part way through the branch from beneath.
- Then make a second cut from the top of the branch, a few inches out from the first cut to sever the limb.
- Finally, make the cut just outside of the branch collar.
Young or newly planted trees will benefit greatly from regular watering. Application of 10 to 15 gallons of water once per week from March until October will suffice, unless the weather is excessively hot. Just for reference, a slowly running garden hose will put out about 1 gallon per minute.