Winter is a good time to do some pruning if the temperatures are around 30 degrees or so. Don’t consider pruning your trees if the temperature is below freezing because the wood is brittle and will shatter when you make a cut.
One of the advantages of pruning during the winter is that you can see much better what needs to be cut out and what should stay. The other advantage is that the trees are dormant, and won’t mind you doing a little work on them.
Ornamental trees should pruned to remove competing branches. Weeping Cherries, Flowering Dogwoods and Flowering Crab Apples have a tendency to send branches in many different directions. Decide how you want the plant to look and then start pruning to achieve that look.
First you want to examine the tree and see what you can eliminate. You will probably see a lot of small branches that have been starved of sunlight, that certainly don’t add anything to the plant and for that reason, should be cut out.
Any branch that is growing toward the center of the tree where it will get little sunlight should be removed. Where there are two branches that are crossing, one of them should be eliminated. Once you get the inside of the tree cleaned up, you can start shaping the outside.
Shaping the outside is actually quite easy. Just picture how you want the tree to look, and picture imaginary lines of the finished outline of the tree. Cut off anything that is outside of these imaginary lines. It is also important to cut the tips of branches that have not yet reached these imaginary lines in order to force the tree to fill out.
For the most part trees have two kinds of growth: Terminal branches and lateral branches. Each branch has one terminal bud at the very end, and many lateral branches along the sides. The terminal buds grow in an outward direction away from the tree. Left uncut they just keep growing in the same direction, and the tree grows tall and very thin. That’s why the trees in the woods are so thin and not very attractive.
When you cut a branch on a tree, the tree sets new buds just below where you cut. When you remove the terminal bud the tree will set multiple buds; this is how you make a tree nice and full. Don’t be afraid to trim your trees, they will be much nicer because of it. The more you trim them, the fuller they become.
You can make the job easier by using the WORX WG308 6-Inch 5-Amp Electric JawSaw with Extension Handle.
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