If you’ve ever wondered how to correctly prune your trees and shrubs, this blog is the place to be! This blog will cover the process of pruning secondary branches and also limbs back to the main stem.
Why the Pruning cut needs to be correctly placed!
Today I went to see a job in Leicester in which the client wants their Cherry tree “Pruned back to where it was last time”, I wasn’t the tree surgeon who pruned it last time. As I look through the canopy from the ground it became apparent there has been work done to this tree around 2-3 years ago. As a lot of us tree surgeons will agree most of our pruning work is rectifying the previous work done by either the clients themselves or a gardener. With this tree in particular there is a lot of sucker growth (epicormic) from each cut made, there was also decay pockets in the main stem and finally a lot of stubs with no growth.
To some clients this may seem the normal reaction from the tree……It is not! It became very obvious that not only was the tree severely cut, it was also badly pruned. So what harm will these incorrect cuts cause?
A pruning cut too close to the parent stem (Flush cut) will most likely be damaging said stem, this can lead to decay pockets and diseases that can affect the structural integrity of the wood. The smaller the cut the easier the tree can seal the wound, a flush cut is usually a bigger wound than a correctly placed pruning cut.
A stubbed cut is when the final pruning cut is further from the stem than needs to be, this can result in several different outcomes. A stubbed cut can lead to sucker growth, this would be fast growing, upright and weakened growth. The sucker growth will stem from latent buds within the branch, leaving a stub end will activate the growth to compensate what foliage the branch has lost.
A different result of a stubbed cut may be that the branch will die causing the decay to follow the branch back into the tree. Trees don’t seal these wounds as well as they would a correct pruning cut allowing more time for fungi to infect the tree by access of this wound.
How we prune:
In order to carry out a correct pruning cut there are a couple of parts of the tree you will need to know, this will make it easier to comprehend this explanation.
The diagram labels the branch bark ridge and the branch collar, these are the parts we look for when preparing for the final cut. The cut needs to be close to the branch bark ridge but ensure not to cut into it, this ridge is often more apparent than the collar that lies underneath the branch.
Once you have identified the branch bark ridge you can the draw an imaginary line mirroring the line of the ridge down to the branch collar, the branch collar is usually a slightly bulbous shape on the underside of the branch. As with the branch bark ridge the cut needs to be placed on the outer side of the collar.
Using this method will reduce the chances of infection and reactive growth!
Make the cut
To ensure the bark doesn’t tear underneath the cut it is advised to implement the “3-cut” method, this will allow you to remove the branch before making the final cut.
Don’t make a bigger wound than you need to, are there any other options further out on the branch to prune to? a pruning cut will be a large wound in comparison to a reduction cut, don’t forget this will be harder for the tree to seal the wound.
A pruning saw will be essential in making the perfect cuts, they are readily available and leave a clean finish. A smoother finish will be better for the tree to seal the wound as well as making the cut faster and safer. You can find pruning saws in most good garden centres or tool shops. Note. Pruning saws can leave a nasty bite! be safe!
If you require more advice or a tree surgeon based in Leicestershire to prune your trees please call William on 0116 2600419 and I will be happy to help!