How to Prune a Tree to Keep It Small

Pruning can help the landscapers and homeowners to keep their trees small. As pruning can make a tree small, it is the best method to limit the height and breadth of your trees. There are many ways to prune trees so that they can grow to a manageable size. Pruning is especially essential for fruit-bearing trees so that you can easily harvest the fruits without the need for a ladder.

Pruning the trees when they are young to manage the size of canopy and height is better than lowering the height of a mature tree. Some people prune trees as their branches grow into unwanted areas like utility lines or a neighbor’s house. Homeowners also prune large trees when they block the sun in their garden that inhibits the growth of lawn grass.

Steps to prune a tree

1. Access your tree

The first step to pruning a tree is to access it thoroughly. It helps you to know about the branches that are longer than required and needs pruning. Some trees are not symmetrical and grow on one side more than other sides. Accessing a tree from all sides and upward enables you to know how much you need to prune and in what direction.

2. Identify the skeleton

Some major branches support the tree. You should never cut these branches and prune only the ones that spread beyond their limits. Cutting the major branches can lead to asymmetrical growth and weakening of your tree.

3. Prune the damaged branches

It is essential to remove the damaged branches before healthy ones. Broken and damaged branches consume water and nutrition from the roots and stem. Removing them makes the water and nutrients available for healthy branches.

4. Trim the thick branches that block airflow

Remove the branches that cross as these are the ones that block the flow of air in the tree. They need an adequate flow of air between the leaves and branches for healthy growth. Removing the branches too close to each other improves the flow of air in the tree. The best way is to prune the branches growing inward towards the center. These branches interfere with others and create congestion in the tree that blocks the circulation of air.

5. Prune the branches that obstruct something

If your tree has some branches that block something like walkways or higher branches are interfering with utility lines, windows, gallery, or the structure of a building. It is fine to prune the branches that cause any kind of interference with other elements of your house or garden.

steps tree pruning

6. Prune minimum

Every cut that you make while pruning a tree makes it prone to fungus and pest infestation. A tree can take months to heal the cuts and wounds and recover from the loss of branches. You should prune only the branches that are causing some problems like weak branches, dead branches, or those interfering with utility lines or a building. Tree owners should never prune more than 25 percent of the canopy of a tree. Pruning more than 25 percent will reduce the food production process significantly that occurs in the leaves of a tree.

7. Prune in the right season

The time of pruning affects the health and growth of a tree significantly. All tree owners need to consider the right season for pruning a tree in their landscape. Early winter and late fall are the best seasons for pruning as the mildly cold weather minimize the loss of sap from cuts. The cuts that you make on the tree while pruning are less likely to get infected by insects or fungus.

8. Prune when dormant

When the trees shed their leaves, it means they are dormant, and it is the right time to prune them. All the branches are visible, and you see the skeleton of the tree. It makes it easy to decide which branches you need to prune and which you should leave. However, if the branches are broken due to a storm at any time of the year, you should prune them immediately.

9. How to cut while pruning a branch

The best way to cut is to do it on the underside of the branch. The initial cut you make should not go throughout the branch. It should be made on the stem collar of the branch to avoid the branch cranking too near the stem of the tree. Stem collar is the small lip from where every branch protrudes out.

The second cut should be made on the outside of the first cut on the branch. A stub will remain after removing the branch. Then make a precise cut against the stem collar, but don’t cut the branch collar. In this way, the tree will heal the cut quickly.

Final Words

These are the steps to prune a tree to keep it small. However, if you don’t know the right way to prune, you can hire a professional service for the pruning of your trees. Hiring a professional will ensure the pruning in the right way for the safety of your trees and landscape. Following the tips in this post can help landscape owners to prune and take care of their trees.