Tree pruning in the Northwest is just what the doctor ordered

Trees will grow healthy and beautifully if the tree pruning is done correctly and at the right time of year.

So you thought that living in the Pacific Northwest, with its cedartrees and evergreens, would mean you’d rarely have to worry about tree pruning…right? That is simply not true. There are many good reasons to prune both our evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs that thrive in our Seattle area.

I wish I could tell you everything you need to know, but you’d never want to read such a lengthy blog so I’ll just mention a few interesting points that I hope will help as you begin pruning your trees and shrubs this month. The rest should be left to our qualified landscape team.

Pruning helps ensure safety and is often done to create an appealing shape; it is also a means to growing healthier, stronger trees and shrubs. Pruning can protect against storm damage and the danger of falling limbs form trees. This is particularly a concern for trees along walkways and around buildings. Tree pruning includes removing of diseased, broken, or dead branches; however, cutting live branches is sometimes necessary to allow more sunlight through or because the tree has grown too large for its location. Properly pruning shrubs will encourage robust inner growth that will help keep overall size under control.

Just as preventative medicine is good for your health, quality tree and shrub pruning preserves the strength and growth of trees and bushes. But it is important to prune trees correctly and at the right time of year or the health of the tree could be compromised. Think of the tree as a human being. The bark (or skin) of the tree protects it from bacteria and disease. If you prune a tree back and cut off branches during its growing season, the open wound can become infected.

Now here is something you may not know – it is a good idea to wash your saw or clippers with soap and hot water, or better yet – wipe with bleach before pruning. This reduces the chance of spreading disease from one tree to the next.

The challenge is in knowing which branches to cut and how to make the tree and shrub pruning as safe as possible for the plant. Improper cutting or removing the wrong branches or too many branches can damage, even kill a tree. Proper tree pruning will keep the tree safe.

Here are seven pruning hints that may be helpful:

  1. Pruning branches in the winter when plants are dormant and before the first growth in spring, is always the best time. Pruning in other seasons is ok provided you scale your efforts back so as not to overstress your plants.

  2. Remove dead wood first.

  3. When cutting a branch that extends from the trunk of the tree, do not cut flush with the tree trunk. This could cause excessive bark injury. Look for the collar where the branch meets the trunk and prune outboard of that.

  4. Remove branches that grow across the canopy of the tree (crossover branches) or are likely to rub against each other.

  5. Cut vertical branches at a 45 degree angle to keep water from settling in the cut. This will help the wound heal faster.

  6. If the tree has a double trunk, cut the weaker one away leaving the stronger trunk to take over as the central leader.

  7. Prune apple trees when they are three to five years old to ensure that a strong scaffold of branches springs from a central leader, or trunk.

After planting a young tree, don’t forget to begin pruning in the first year. Developmental tree pruning enhances the structure of a young tree. This important procedure helps ensure that the new tree will be strong and grow in the right direction.

Proper tree pruning is a landscape exercise program that can reduce the potential of tree illness, costly problems, and the need for major changes as your landscape matures.

Category: Landscape Maintenance

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