How To Prune A Shade Tree

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This article will teach you how to prune a shade tree.
by Brett · All Zones · Pruning · 0 Comments · August 29, 2010 · 9,521 views

Pruning a Shade Tree

When to Prune Shade Trees

Regarding shade trees, such as oaks, maples, riverbirch and elms, late dormant-season pruning is usually recommended, although some trees will ooze liquid if cut too close to the time of Spring growth. One period to avoid is when buds are expanding in the spring. Pruning during this period can disrupt tree growth and stress trees badly.

How to Prune Shade Trees

First, a word of caution: Shade trees should never be topped as removing or cutting through the central leader branch will destroy the natural shape and structure of the tree.

Pruning Shade Tree Diagram
Prune limbs just outside the base of every branch at a point called the "branch-bark ridge". The branch-bark ridge is where the growing, expanding branch and the expanding trunk push up bark between them, looking like caulk, so to speak. If the bark ridge is squeezed up and out of the crotch, there is a corky or a raised ridge. Sometimes the bark is not squeezed up and out of the crotch; the expanding branch and trunk have grown around it and "included" it. The bark ridge is a crack or slit in this case.

On the bottom side of every branch where it meets the trunk or another main branch of the tree is the "branch collar". Make sure your cut isbeyond the branch collar, and the branch ridge at the top of the limb.DO NOT cut into branch ridge or branch collar! Do not use wound paint or tar after making a cut. Trees will heal themselves.

TIP: If you have any reservations about pruning your shade tree call your a local arborist. (Heavily advised).

Pruning mature trees may require special equipment, training, and expertise. If the pruning work requires climbing, the use of a chain or hand saw, or the removal of large limbs, then using personal safety equipment, such as protective eyewear and hearing protection, is a must. Arborists can provide a variety of services to assist in performing the job safely and reducing risk of personal injury and damage to your property. They are also able to determine which type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees.

Other Shade Tree Pruning Tips

Limbing A Shade Tree
Limbing Up a Tree

A tree can be limbed up to 8' above the ground when the tree is tall enough to retain 3 to 4 main branches at the top. Branches that angle upwards may be left above 5-6 feet.

Before limbing up your tree stand back to look the tree over carefully to identify what you want to prune. Look at your tree from the base up, following a branch upward to assess what and where to prune. Don't rush, and if in doubt, don't cut.

To limb up the tree, start from the bottom moving up. Use hand pruners, lopping shears or a tree saw to remove branches. Make cuts as close to the trunk as possible without damaging the branch collar.

Shade Tree Thinning Cuts (Hardwood Trees)

Pruning a Shade Tree

Pruning a tree by thinning branches and leaving no stubs produces a more open and stronger branching pattern. Thinning helps to control size and rejuvinates the tree, making it more vigorous, healthier, and stronger. The thinning of a tree involves cutting a tree branch off at its point of origin on the parent branch. If you lack confidence in thinning a tree it is highly recommended that you hire your local arborist to perform the task.

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