Spring is here and now many people will be turning towards their gardens and once again enjoying their outside space.
Today we will look at the best times of year to prune, what tools to use and the best methods to follow.
When is the best time to prune your trees?
Timing is clearly an important factor when it comes to pruning your trees. Here’s when you should pick up those pruning saws.
Winter & Early Spring Pruning (Dormant Time)
Pruning before the spring bloom is one of the best times to get out in your garden.
While your plants and trees are dormant, cutting back the dead wood is a great way of ensuring maximum healthy growth once the season begins.
None of the plant’s energy is being wasted by sending nutrients along dead or dying limbs. Proper pruning will help to lead to a vigorous burst of new growth as spring sets in.
The timing of late winter to early spring means the coldest months have passed. This is recommended for two reasons; one it is far more enjoyable for you to be spending extended times in the garden, and two, the open cut on your trees will not be exposed to the harsh, cold winter climate.
Another great time to get out and prune is during the summer.
This will enable you to keep the growth of your plants and trees in check, ensuring that everything is shaping up the way you want it to.
Pruning allows you to slow (also known as “dwarf”) the development of a tree or branch. They’ll be some areas you will not want the plant to grow towards. They’ll be other areas that you will want to encourage.
This is especially important for fruit trees, (as explained in the video above). You will want to redirect growth in the area that will create the best harvest. By getting rid of excess branches will help strength the areas that you want to perform well.
Furthermore, by reducing the total leaf surface area you are essentially, reducing the amount of photosynthesis taking place. This helps to curb the diet of the plant, meaning nutrients sent to the roots for growth work more efficiently.
Defective limbs and shoots that are struggling can also be pruned during the summer. This will also help towards the overall health of the plant, as well as its beauty.
When Not To Prune
The fall is a good time to hang back on the pruning.
This is because decay and fungi is spreading most vigorously during the fall months. You do not want their spores entering the open wounds of your recent cuts.
You will have plenty of time in the winter to do some housekeeping on your plants. And as we state above, late winter early spring, is the best time to get out and start shaping your plants for the blossoming season ahead.
How to prune your trees – The 3 cut method
There is of course a particular way you should go about pruning your trees. Get it wrong and you could end up causing damage rather than helping your trees.
Here is a fool proof, 3 step approach you should keep in mind when getting out in your garden to prune:
Step 1: Position of the initial cut
This is a very important step as it obviously determines where the limb will be cut. When pruning trees you should make this first cut on the chosen limb, between one and two feet out from the main trunk.
The cut should also start on the underside of the limb. You should only saw about a 3rd of the way into the wood. The second cut is the one that makes the break.
Let’s take a look at that now.
Step 2: Position of the breaking cut
The second cut is made just a few inches out from the first. This is the cut that will go all the way through to make the break.
Because the weight of the branch will very often make the break as you saw, the first cut will help reduce the bark from splitting up towards the trunk.
Without the cut you made in step one, you can end up with an open wound where the bark has split, allowing for disease and fungi to set in.
Step 3: The Final Cut
Now with the weight of the branch gone, it is time to cut the limb at the joint with the main trunk.
This is called the branch collar, and on most species of tree you will see a flaired area at the joint. You should make the cut so that the flair is still visible afterwards.
When cut smoothly at the right place, the flair will heal over with new bark where the collar and limb once began.
The importance of pruning
Pruning limbs is all about increasing the health and beauty of your trees and plants.
By following the above guidelines mentioned above, you will ensure that your garden not only looks better, but will grow in a way that suits your needs.
And remember, taking shortcuts while pruning can lead to issues later as areas of the tree may fall prone to disease. Getting it right the first time will definitely save you time and energy in the long run.
Your trees will thank you for it too.