Tips for Pruning Trees

Deciduous trees are pruned during their dormant stages.  In our region this means fall to spring.  With spring upon us, now is the time to make sure you have pruned all the trees you plan to touch for this growth season.  The trees that Great Rivers Greenway prune tend to be smaller (under 25’) and we mainly focus on structural or corrective pruning.

An exception is when tree limbs are ripped off trees or fall off during a storm or high winds. A clean, proper cut is appropriate at the site of the wound; you do not need to wait for dormant season.  If you do have to prune during growing season, be sure to factor in the size of the limb that fell off and include it in your pruning percentage of removal.

In general, when pruning trees you should never remove more than 30% of the canopy in one growing season.  When approaching a tree, walk a full circle around it inspecting the canopy, branching, root flare, everything (really, you can do this all year leading up to pruning!)  First to remove will be dead, dying or crossing/rubbing branches).  Next, look for the central leader, if you have a double leader on a single stem tree a decision must be made.  Next step is to make sure you are not creating any maintenance issues with lower limbs- ask yourself “is it best to enlarge a mulch ring or remove lower branching”?  Each cut on a tree should be just on the outside of the branch collar and ridge- this is where meristematic tissue is located to help compartmentalize the wound- a great cut will heal like a donut!