Now Is the Time to Prune Your Trees

If you prune small trees now, you will be happy you did come spring!



You may not have considered pruning your trees. Don't trees pretty much take care of themselves?

No, they don't.

Trees need TLC, just as any other living thing does. Most importantly, pruning benefits the tree’s health, but it also protects your house and property. Branches hanging too close to a roof, deck, or fence could break off in a winter storm and damage the structure. They could also land on walkways, gardens and low shrubbery. 

Tree surgeons are expensive and while they are recommended for big jobs, you can prune small trees and low limbs yourself. Decorative trees such as dogwood and cherry are good candidates. If you notice branches near or touching utility wires, notify the utility company.

Do It Yourself Tips
The best time to prune is after the leaves fall. Not only does this signify that the tree has entered a slow growth cycle, it's easier to see what needs to be lopped off.

For a tree’s health, do not prune more than 30 percent of it in any given year. Pruning 10 to 20 percent of the tree will contribute to its good health.

Take a good look at the tree from all sides. Make a plan — do not lop just any old branch. Think about how the tree’s shape will be affected when the leaves come in next spring.

Cut branches that form narrow “Vs” with the limbs, as they are weaker than those with wide angles. Chop off dead or diseased branches.

Cut the branch at its collar, indicated by ripples or wrinkles where the branch grows from the limb or trunk. Don’t cut flush with the trunk, which can harm the tree by draining its nutrients.

Pruning Tools
The best tool for pruning trees is called a pruning pole. It has sharp loppers that dig into the wood and snap it off with a clean cut. These tools also come with an extension arm so that you can reach relatively high branches. If you plan to do a lot of pruning, invest in this tool. Otherwise, look into renting one but make sure it's well maintained and sharp.

You may find you need a saw for some branches, and a sturdy step ladder to reach them.

Your trees will thank you for this tender loving care when they leaf out in the spring with full, healthy cover. You will feel proud of your efforts and forethought. It's always good to save a tree!