How to Prune Trees in Spring
In spring, you may have to do a lot of pruning to remove the excessive growth of shrub or trees in your yard. Your local Toronto arborist would recommend pruning trees in winter but there are always a few exceptions. In fact, it’s always better if you can prune the trees a few months before they start to grow. Once the trees begin budding or blooming in spring, pruning can be such a tiresome task.
Deciding What to Prune
Pruning is done for different reasons. Perhaps you’re trying to shape the trees for shade or you simply want to achieve a certain desired height. Before you begin pruning, it’s important to understand the goals of conducting this process.
Light pruning can be done at any time. However, if you have other goals such as to change the height or shape of the trees, you’ll want to plan around it and make sure it’s done in the right season. For instance, pruning in the winter is not recommended because it can lead to excess growth during spring. If you prune too much during the summer, the cut branches may grow at a slower rate than you want. Deciding what you want to achieve will help you plan around pruning at the right time.
Pruning to Minimize Damage
Take time to assess the tree. Look at its current height and shape and envision how you would like it to appear once you’re done with pruning. Identify the main branches of the tree. These are the branches that make up the tree’s skeleton. Avoid removing these branches as you could slow down their growth.
Signs of Damage
Identify branches that show signs of damage. This includes branches that are broken or look weathered. Get rid of these damaged branches first. Keeping them will prevent healthy branches from getting adequate water and nutrients since they continue consuming them.
Look out for branches that cross each other and remove them. These branches prevent air circulation and may hinder light from reaching all parts of the tree. Any branches that are too close together should be removed as they can contribute to the growth of fungus and insect infestation. Get rid of branches that are growing inward as they could cause clutter.
Eliminate Branches Blocking Walkways
Eliminate any branches that are blocking the walkways or coming into contact with telephone wires, the roof or close to your house. Any branches that are causing some type of obstruction need to be pruned.
Pruning for Neater and Pleasant Shape
Pruning can also be done to give the tree a neater and more pleasant shape. If you feel a few branches stick out and give the tree a funny look, don’t be afraid to make a few cuts. Prune only as much as you need too. A little cut can make a big difference so don’t remove more than 25% of the tree’s branches.
Don't Pruning Too Much
Tree branches are important for its survival. Pruning too much can expose the tree to dangerous fungus and insects because it compromises its protection system. If you remove all the branches, it can cause stress for the plant and it will take a long while for the tree to recover.
Tips and Warnings
Remove Dead Wood
You can remove dead or dying wood at any time throughout the different seasons.
Research or ask for expert advice on the proper time to prune certain trees in your geographical area.
Use pruning shears
Use pruning shears to cut off small branches
Use Lopping Shears
Use lopping shears for medium size (1’’+diameter) branches and for branches larger than 2’’ diameter, use a tree saw.
Avoid Hedge Shears
Avoid using hedge shears when pruning trees as they can cause damage
Dip Tools in Isopropyl Alcohol
Dip the cutting tools in isopropyl alcohol when pruning different trees to prevent the spread of disease from tree to tree.
Wear Protective Clothing
Wear protective clothing (a long sleeved shirt, gloved and safety goggles) when pruning trees.
Do not Top
Do not top (pruning trees for height) shade trees. Topping a shade tree can cause serious harm to the branch structure and overall strength of the tree.
Tips on how to prune trees in spring
Pruning trees in Spring has some serious potential risks. If not properly done, the trees may be left with cuts which put them at an increased risk of insect infestation or diseases. But there’s a way that tree pruning can be done safely in spring. You just have to ensure that you don’t remove more than 10% of the tree branches. The idea here is to do minimal pruning to enhance the aesthetics of the tree.
Which types of trees are best to prune in spring
There are certain tree species that thrive when pruned in spring. If you have apricot trees, dogwood trees, lilac or magnolia, you can prune them once they’ve finished blooming.
Some trees like maple and walnut will ooze sap when pruned which can be so messy to work with. We would recommend trimming them after they have all their leaves for the season.
There are certain types of trees that shouldn’t be pruned or trimmed in spring. Remember that pruning can sometimes leave the trees vulnerable to diseases and insect attacks. For instance, avoid pruning oak trees, elm trees and Sycamores in spring. If you are unsure of whether to prune the trees in your yard, work with your arborist to determine what’s best and how to get it done safely.
Al Miley & Associates – expert Tree and Shrub Pruning / Trimming Toronto.