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Landscape Design

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Pruning Trees

The objective of pruning is to produce strong, healthy, attractive plants. By understanding how, when and why to prune, and by following a few simple steps, you can achieve the desired look.  The are a few main reasons for pruning trees:

· Removing limbs that cross or are likely to break because of a weak angle

· Removing limbs that could fall and cause injury to yourself or a structure

· Removing branches that grow into utility lines

· Trimming branches that interfere with lines of sight

· For aesthetic purposes

 When To Prune
Conifers may be pruned any time of year, but pruning during the dormant season may minimize sap and resin flow from cut branches. Hardwood trees and shrubs without showy flowers: prune in the dormant season to easily visualize the structure of the tree, to maximize wound closure in the growing season after pruning, to reduce the chance of transmitting disease, and to discourage excessive sap flow from wounds.  Usually, the best time is during late winter when the temperature is above freezing.  Flowering trees and shrubs: these should also be pruned during the dormant season for the same reasons stated above; however, to preserve the current year's flower crop, prune according to the following schedule:

· Trees that flower in early spring—prune immediately after flowering (flower buds arise the year before they flush, and will form on the new growth).

· Tree susceptible to fireblight - these trees, including many varieties of crabapple, hawthorn, pear and
mountain ash should be pruned during the dormant season.

· Flower in the summer or fall - prune during the dormant season (flower buds will form on new twigs during the next growing season, and the flowers will flush normally).

· Dead branches - can be removed any time of the year.

· An alternate method of conifer pruning is to cut back no more than half of the current years growth after it is hardened off in July though August in Ohio

Pruning Cuts
Use the following decision guide for size of branches to be removed:  under 2” diameter - go ahead, between 2-4” - think twice, greater than 4”- have a good reason.


Crown Thinning
Assess how a tree will be pruned from the top down.  Favor branches with strong, U-shaped angles of attachment. Remove branches with weak, V-shaped angles of attachment and/or included bark.  Remove any branches that rub or cross another branch. Make sure that lateral branches are no more than one-half to three-quarters of the diameter of the stem to discourage the development of co-dominant stems. Do not remove more than one- quarter of the living crown of a tree at one time.
Crown Raising
Always maintain live branches on at least two-thirds of a tree's total height. Removing too many lower branches will hinder the development of a strong stem.

Crown Reduction
Use crown reduction pruning only when absolutely necessary. Make the pruning cut at a lateral branch that is at least one-third the diameter of the stem to be removed. If it is necessary to remove more than half of the foliage from a branch, remove the branch.


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