Spring Pruning For Your Landscape Trees

Early spring is the time to get your landscape trees ready for a season of growth and beauty. Understanding the basic types of trimming your trees may need can help ensure that the plants continue to grow well and healthy.

Winter Damage

Winter damage is one of the first things many people think of when it comes to spring pruning. Late winter, before the buds begin to break open, is the best time to cut out broken branches and obvious deadwood. Pests and disease organisms aren't yet active at the very beginning of the growing season, so cutting late in winter gives your trees a chance to heal over the cuts  as soon as the the spring growth flush starts and before the pests become highly active

Just be careful not to cut out healthy wood. If you are in doubt about winter damage, it's better to wait. Once the tree begins to flower or leaf out you can reassess if more pruning is necessary.

Problem Growth

Problem growth mainly consists of branches with poor form. Crossed branches are the most common. If two branches cross each other, they will rub together in the breeze. The friction wears away the protective bark on the branches and leaves a wound, which can become a vector for pests or disease organisms. Trimming out one of the rubbing branches solves the problem. Choose the strongest branch with the best form to keep.

The branch crotch can also indicate problem growth. The ideal crotch angle is 45 to 90 degrees. You want the branches to angle upward, but not straight upward. Waterspout branches grow nearly straight upward, which can weaken a tree. Branches with a larger than 90 degree angle point downward and are more likely to break. Pruning these out helps keep your tree healthy.

Shaping and Training

Young trees may still require regular shaping and training. How this is done depends on the tree, its age, and your landscaping needs. Generally, shaping and training cuts should be done in late winter or early spring before growth begins. The goal is to create an balanced lattice of lateral branches growing from a single trunk. 

Mature trees may require moderate shaping, depending on the variety. The most common is the removal of suckers, which grow around the base of the tree, and twiggy branches that sometimes grow along the trunk but beneath the main canopy. If there was any major branches lost over winter in the canopy, the tree may also require a bit of branch removal and trimming up top to help balance out the crown.

For more help, contact a tree trimming service in your area like Treetime Inc.