It’s time to prune trees if you haven’t already. Although I appreciate well-shaped trees and bushes, I have to work myself into a certain state to prune. There is something counter-intuitive about cutting off branches to make something grow a better, fuller shape.
I start pruning in January when my tropical hibiscus have dropped most of their leaves in my living room. The leafless tree shape is easier to see and I can do the trimming in phases so I don’t traumatize it. Basically you don’t want to trim more than a quarter of the total tree branches at once so mark them before cutting so you don’t cut too much.
Start with some simple branches to cut off:
1. Mark and remove dead branches.
2. Mark and remove branches that are unsafe. This can be branches that are unsafe for people who may be around them as well as branches that are unsafe for the tree itself. Branches that cross are not good for fruit trees, for example. Branches with a low clearance are not safe for people who may mow lawns nearby.
3. When choosing branches to remove, mark branches so new buds are facing outwards. It took me awhile to get this concept under my belt but basically don’t cut above growing nodes that will force a new branch inward. The nodes should be pointing in the direction you want the new branch to grow.
4. Don’t cut right at the growth node, trim at a 45 degree angle about 1/8th of an inch above the growth node.
Coming up next, tips for pruning fruit trees.