Pruning Young Trees

Date posted:

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We've built our reputation on pruning large, mature trees. It just seems to make more sense to hire someone to prune a 60' tree rather than a 6' tree. But in all reality, the most important time to prune your trees is while they are young, small, and nowhere near 'mature'. As most everything else in life, it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, same goes with trees.

Trees can be weak or strong depending on the form they take. An ideal tree has one central leader with wide crotches on the branches, and the branch diameter does not exceed 60% of the trunk diameter where it attaches. If every tree mimicked that blueprint, then weather-related tree damage would decrease dramatically!

After planting a new tree, look at the crotches. Look for and eliminate any that resemble a "V" more so than a "U".

Crotch to be eliminated due to resembling a "V"

Good crotch resembling more of a "U"

Once you have done that, determine if there is more than one leader. If there is, reduce one to a lower lateral branch to give one dominance. If this is done every couple of years while the tree is still forming, you will eventually end up the strongest trees on the block!

Single leader left after pruning.
Single leader left after structural pruning