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The benefits of pruning

Why prune your tree?

There are many reasons why trees might need pruning. These reasons could include improving the structure of the tree, removing dangerous or defective branches; the reduction of shading, the reduction of wind loading, or providing clearance between the tree and a structure – to name just a few. Care must be taken, however, as removing too big a branch can lead to disease entering the tree via the wound/s left behind, or reduce the vitality of the tree due to the excessive volume of leaf-bearing material being removed.
– Vigor:
Pruning a growing shoot stimulates new growth production. So if you’re looking for some vigorous new growth on a shrub, prune it hard (a lot). Consider this type of pruning when you have a shrub that has a weak section of growth; such as the back. In fact, when you “pinch” back new growth with your fingers on any plant, you’re actually pruning.
– Shape:
Plants that have grown out of balance with either the yard or their own growing pattern (such as stray and awkward branches) can be reshaped by pruning.
– Restrict a Plant’s Size:
This can be especially important if you live in an area with restricted space. Gardeners living in urban and suburban areas almost always have to perform some pruning to keep trees and shrubs from out-growing the yard, garden, or container. Root-pruning is another technique that can help restrict the size of plants in containers.
– Let in More Light:
If you have an extremely shady yard or you’d like to have more sun reaching the area under a tree for plants or lawn, careful pruning can let in a little extra sunshine.
– Health and Structural Soundness:
Any diseased, injured, dying, or dead branches should be removed for the health of the tree. Branches that rub together should be removed to eliminate potential damage to the main branch. Much of maintaining structural soundness in a tree is about careful pruning practices such as not “topping” trees. Topping can make the tree weak and susceptible to pests. It’s also associated with slow death even if it takes years for the tree to actually die.
– Create Special Effects:
Pruning for special effects is most often seen in formal-type gardens. They often take the shape of boxwood (Buxus spp.) topiary or an apple tree that’s been trained as an espalier. Pollarding or coppicing pruning techniques may be used, as well.
– Encourage Flowering and Fruit:
Pruning can coax growth spurs (produces the flowers and the fruit) to form on the branches. Strong flower buds are also encouraged to form due to pruning. Fruit trees can be lightly pruned in the summer which will provide better air circulation around the fruit. This results in less trouble with fruit diseases and the fruit ripen faster.
– Protect People and Property:
Trees that have been planted near homes, sheds, play structures, and other buildings propose a potential threat to human safety if heavy branches break off or the tree falls. They can also interfere with telephone or power lines. Proper pruning can keep people, pets, and property safe.
– Improve Appearance:
Many gardeners’ top priority when pruning their plants is about their appearance in the yard or garden. Removing dead, unwanted branches, as well as suckers creates a pleasing shape and leaves plants looking neat and tidy. Many lovely blooming shrubs such as the Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.) are capable of spectacular blossom displays due to good pruning techniques.
Usually pruning is about working with a plant’s natural growth pattern as it’s developing, as well as maintaining mature tree and shrub species. One of the few exceptions is when it’s used to create effects such as espalier. In general, a successful pruning job will leave your healthy, beautifully-shaped fruit trees or shrubs looking like they haven’t been touched at all.

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