Five Tips for Pruning Young Trees

When a tree is young, pruning is essential. Proper pruning encourages the tree to grow in a direction that will support the health and safety of the tree for the rest of its life, and pruning the tree while young can prevent the need for extensive tree maintenance down the road. Keep these tips in mind when pruning young trees.

1. Allow Transplanted Trees to Get Established

If you've transplanted a young tree to your home, you shouldn't prune it until it is well established. Instead, remove broken or dead branches as they appear, but leave the rest of the tree alone. After it is well established, you can prune as normal.

2. Let the Leader Lead

The largest central branch on your tree is called the leader, and it's important to identify the leader before you start pruning a young tree. Never prune the leader, except in cases where your tree begins to grow two leaders — then, you need to get rid of one of them. Also, make sure that none of your other branches grows higher than your leader. If so, you need to trim them back to protect the integrity of the tree's shape.

3. Aim for a Balanced Shape

When deciding which branches to prune, you should aim for a balanced shape. Ideally, you want your tree to have a rounded canopy and not be too dense with overlapping branches. Remember, however, that you can't undo any cuts you make. To be on the safe side, you may want to consult with a professional, such as Tree Fix.

4. Cut Above the Collar

When you have decided which branches to cut, you need to cut above the collar. The collar is a swollen part of bark at the base of the branch. When cutting, you don't want to cut flush with the trunk and remove the collar. Instead, you want to try to cut just outside the collar. That allows the tree's natural healing process to activate most easily. That said, you also want to cut as close to the collar as possible. If you leave a stump of the branch extending from the collar, that can cause decay to form in that area.

5. Don't Cover the Wounds

Some people think that you need to cover the cut after you have pruned a tree, and there is "pruning paint" just for this purpose. You don't need to use products like this. Trees heal by growing over their wounds, and adding other substances can slow that process.