How To Prune Trees and Shrubs

how to prune trees and shrubsPruning uses the science and art of gardening to alter the form and growth of a plant, while also performing preventative maintenance. There are a few different reasons we suggest pruning. Pruning promotes plant health, by removing dead or dying limbs you will improve the life of your plant as a whole. You should also prune to maintain plants and improve their appearance, it will give you a much more attractive looking plant by keeping it healthy. Lastly it is important to prune to protect people and property.

With that said, Schmittel’s Nursery in St. Louis would like to share tips on when to prune and how to do it properly.Pruning at the time of planting

1. Pruning at the time of planting

Pruning is the best preventative maintenance for a young plant. When you planta tree, remove diseased, dead, or broken branches. During the dormant season following planting you will train your plants by doing some of the following; shaping trees and not cutting back the leader, removing crossing branches, remove lower branches to gradually raise the crown. When planing shrub it is not as critical to prune at planting but taking the same preventative maintenance will not hurt.

2. Pruning large established trees

When it comes to pruning established trees it is best to leave it to the professionals. Keeping the natural form of large trees should be done whenever possible. There are three common types of tree pruning: Crown thinning which is selectively removing branches throughout the crown, Crown Raising which removes lower branches on developing or mature trees to all clearance under your tree, and lastly Crown Reduction where you remove the top of branches to reduce its height.

proper tree pruningProper branch pruning includes shortening a branch or tig by cutting it back to a side branch or making the cut 1/4 inch above the bud, pruning above a bud facing the outside of a plant will force the new branch to grow in that direction.

When pruning large branches you want to avoid the tearing of bark. Make a first cut on the underside of a branch about 18 inches from the trunk and cut about half way through.Before making the final cut severing a branch you must identify the collar. You only want to remove branch tissue when pruning and make sure not to leave a stub because if the collar is left intact the wound will seal more effectively. Make the second cut an inch further out on the branch and cut until it breaks free. The third cut will be made by cutting down through the branch, severing it. If it looks like bark may tear, make an undercut and then saw through the branch.

The dormant season is best for most pruning, by pruning in late winter just before spring it leaves the wounds exposed less before fresh growth. It is also easier to prune without leaves obscuring plant branch structure. It will also help to avoid plant disease and physiological problems.

3. Pruning hedges

After your initial pruning during planting it is important to continue to prune your hedges often. Once your hedge reaches the desired height, prune new growth back when it reaches another 6 to 8 inches. Prune within 2 inches of the last pruning, you may prune your hedges twice a year. It is best to do in spring and again in mid summer, this will keep them dense and attractive. Your hedges should be pruned so they are wider at the base than at the top to allow sunlight throughout. For older or overgrown shrubs remove one-third of the oldest thickest stems or trunks to the ground. It will encourage growth of new stems from the roots. Once you remove all the overgrown trunks switch to standard pruning as needed.

We hope that these tips on pruning will help you better understand the pruning process. We invite you to contact us or stop by our nursery located in St. Louis County in Maryland Heights, MO.  As we always have, we offer a free, no-hassle consultation and estimate service.