Late winter tree pruning

Farm Forum

Late winter is one of the best times of the year for proper tree pruning. Trees are one of our most important natural resources and therefore one should always devise a plan before heading out with a pruners or a saw. In order to prune a tree successfully without causing irreparable damage, a few items should be addressed. Consider which branches need to be removed and why. Low branches, dead branches and branches that rub against others are some reasons to consider pruning. If you have two branches that are competing for the central leader position, consider removing one of the two so the tree only has one main dominant trunk. A tree with one main dominant leader will perform better long term than a tree with more than one central leader.

When making a pruning cut, it is very important to cut in the right location. Make sure it is not a flush cut or a cut that leaves a long stub. Each branch will have a branch collar at the base, this is an area that has a slight swelling and must stay in tact after the branch is removed. The collar allows the tree to grow over the wound that is created when the branch is removed.

Pruning spruce, pine and other evergreens can also be done this time of year. The same rules apply as far as where to make your cuts. Remember, most evergreens are meant to have branches that grow along the bottom of the trunk. Excessively trimming up live branches can disfigure the tree and sometimes invite certain disease problems.

Topping or tipping your tree is one of the most damaging practices performed on trees. The practice of cutting the top out of your tree no matter the size of it creates a hazardous liability to you and those around you. The City of Aberdeen has an anti-topping ordinance that restricts the topping of any trees within the city limits.

Remember, boulevard trees are owned and maintained by the City of Aberdeen. Concerns regarding boulevard trees should be forwarded to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

As always, make sure you educate yourself in proper pruning techniques or hire a professional arborist if you need help. Please contact me for additional materials on proper pruning techniques.