Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gardening Article: Pruning Tips for Tree Care

When it comes to making your trees look good and live a long life one should consider pruning. Pruning is a vital element in proper maintenance of trees and shrubs. Caring for a tree includes strategic removal of sections of branches or whole branches to train young trees and rejuvenate mature trees. Pruning improves the tree's beauty, structural integrity and health. When done properly, tree pruning controls the size of the tree and shapes it to mitigate personal or property damage.

If you are planting a tree, one should dig the hole out that is twice as wide as the root ball. It is good to strategically prune and pull apart the root ball at planting so the roots do not choke themselves out. You want to encourage the roots to expand into the soil outward instead of just dropping it in and calling it a day. The soil that gets filled in is looser than the compacted soil that was not dug up so this encourages root growth as well. As a side note, do not forget to water a new tree a lot, more than just a quick squirt of the hose. This helps lessen the trauma of transport.

Pruning helps the health of a tree by preventing watersprouts in the crown and suckers from the base roots. Watersprouts in the crown of the tree are unnecessary and should be pruned to reestablish a healthier branch structure. Suckers sprout out of the base of the tree from the roots. These should be pruned before they become established and decrease the vigor of the overall tree and weaken its health. Prune to remove branches that compete against each other (co-dominant). This helps improve the appearance of the trees. It is better done when the trees are young because as they grow, they will grow into a better shape. Any branches that seem weak or attached weakly should also be removed.

Pruning and thinning controls the growth and direction of a tree. Thinning is the removal of an entire branch and heading is pruning down to a bud or side branch. In this way growth can be controlled to avoid the side of your house, other trees or telephone lines. Always cut back to a branch collar or fork, don't just cut a branch blindly in half.

Besides increasing the beauty of and improving the health trees, pruning can decrease their hazard of dropping branches in the wrong place, like on your house, car or pathway when someone is walking down it.

After a storm, trees can be weakened and if limbs have not come down, they may be prone to do so when the next gust of wind occurs. It is advised to inspect trees after a storm to determine if pruning or thinning is needed. It is recommended that you have a certified arborist from an established tree care company do an on site analysis. They can make a professional determination on the condition of your trees and offer advice on how to move forward for maintaining the health and beauty of your trees.

Rich Coffman is a writer on the front range of Colorado and enjoys gardening in his spare time.

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