Pruning Young Trees
What to Prune
- Only remove dead, dying, diseased, broken or crossing branches.
- Remove branches when there are conflicts with utility lines (always consult a professional) and lines of sight related to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and low limbs over sidewalks.
- If young trees are forked at a narrow angle, prune to create one central leader. This trains the tree to grow straight.
- Remove sprouts or suckers at the base of the tree or inside the tree crown that are upright and grow rapidly.
- Pruning should be done sparingly. If you remove too many leaves, a tree cannot gather and process enough sunlight to make food.
When to Prune
- For most trees, prune in late winter or early spring before leaves emerge.
- Prune dead, diseased and broken limbs as soon as you notice them. Prompt pruning prevents the spread of decay and cavity development.
- Young trees should not be pruned for shape until after the first two growing seasons.
- Never remove more that 25% of the live crown (leaves, twigs and branches) in a single year.
How to Prune
- When pruning diseased branches, dip the pruners in household bleach or rubbing alcohol before storing or making the next cut.
- Once you begin a cut, always finish it.
- Trees do NOT need wound dressings to recover from pruning. Through natural processes, the tree will callus over the wound by itself.
- Pruning mature or large trees should be left to Certified Arborists. Large branches are removed by making three cuts.
- Consult the International Society of Arboriculture for more information.