How To Prune A Tree To Keep It Healthy

by Cheryl Dunn

Keeping trees pruned will help them stay strong and healthy as well as making them look nice on your property. If a tree isn't pruned properly, it can damage the tree—possibly killing it—so follow these steps to ensure you are pruning your tree the proper way.

When to prune:

Pruning in the late fall or early winter will put the minimum amount of stress on the tree. Fall and winter pruning will also reduce the chance that insects and fungus will get into the tree where you cut and possibly cause infection. Once the leaves have fallen off, the tree is dormant and a great indicator that it is a good time to prune.

Which branches should be cut:

Start by cutting any branches that show damage first. Then, choose areas that are thick with branches and remove branches that are growing in the wrong direction, or crossing over other branches. Trees thrive when sunlight is able to reach all areas of a tree, so open the tree up to allow sunlight to enter.

Keeping the tree healthy:

Try not to cut any of the major branches, unless they are damaged. Prune as little as possible because trees need their branches to survive. Pruning is stressful for the tree, so the least amount of pruning you can do, the better off the tree will be.

How to cut a large branch:

Make a small cut on the underside of the branch so the branch does not crack too close to the trunk as you are cutting it. Do not cut a branch flush with the trunk, leave a little bit of the branch protruding from the trunk to reduce stress and keep the tree healthy. Cut the branch from the outer side, opposite to where you made your small cut, and then dispose of the cut branch.

Take care of your equipment:

If you prune a tree that is diseased, you can pass this disease on to other trees that you prune in the future, so it is important to clean your equipment properly. You can disinfect your tools using a household cleaner after each tree is pruned to prevent the spread of disease. Make sure that your equipment is cleaned and dried completely before storing it for the season so it doesn't rust while not in use.

By taking a little time once at the end of each season to prune your trees, you will have beautiful, healthy trees growing for years to come. If you are not comfortable pruning your trees yourself, a local tree lopping company, such as Woodpecker Tree Services, can ensure that your trees are property pruned.