Outcomes of Good Pruning –
- A smaller crown which maintains balance and amenity value
- Removal of weak parts
- Removal of dead branches or branch parts
- Maintain healthy structure, prolonged health etc.
Outcomes of Bad Pruning –
- Increased risk of failure (higher hazard risk
- Decline of the tree
- Insect infestations
- Decay of the branches, stem or even roots
- Stress which often allows secondary issues (pests and pathogens) to attack whilst the trees natural defences are hampered
Timings for Pruning
As a general rule, most deciduous (leaf dropping) and evergreen (which includes most conifers) trees are best pruned during their dormant period (over winter in the UK), with early spring a time to avoid for pruning due to excessive bleeding of sap. The second best time is often mid summer but there are a number of exceptions to these rules for various reasons.
For example, cherry trees (prunus species) should be pruned early to mid summer to avoid infection from canker and silver leaf diseases.
The Pruning Cut
One of the first basic mistakes that people make when trying to maintain their trees at home, is making improper cuts. A bad cut can make it very difficult for a tree to react to a wound, and gives opportunity for harmful infections to get into the tree.
The two diagrams below show the ideal pruning points for removal of a branch, ensuring the minimum diameter wound is left and that the tree has the best chance of sealing the wound to prevent colonisation by decay fungi.
The diameter of the branch being pruned (removed) removed should ideally not be more than a 3rd of the diameter of the branch it is being pruned (removed) from.
Pruning cuts should be made with clean, sharp tools (secateurs, loppers, hand saw or chainsaw.
Below are photographs taken by AG Tree Services Ltd and we have shown the desired target pruning cut line on real trees (a cherry and a twisted willow).
Tree owners are often under the false impression that they can do whatever they like to their trees. This is definitely not the case if the tree has a Tree Protection Order (TPO) or is within a Conservation Area. Such trees are legally protected under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). Failure to correctly apply the local planning authority and gain relavent permissions before carrying out work on the trees with a TPO or within a Conservation Area can result in prosecution and an unlimited fine for any personnel found guilty (this could be owners, managers and/or contractors).
For specific advice on pruning your tree(s), please contact AG Tree Services Ltd. We offer free, no obligation quotations and are more than happy to advise our clients wherever necessary.