Those with hardwood stands on their forest lands may be planning to do some pruning at this time of year. Why prune? “Opening up the canopy to let light and air filter throughout the entire tree allows for increased foliage while decreasing the risk of disease.”
According to Chris Lambton’s ‘A Complete Guide to Pruning and Trimming Trees’, while there is never a bad time to remove dead, damaged or diseased branches, most trees benefit from pruning in mid to late winter. Pruning trees in fall can introduce disease. In the event of a warm fall, it could even encourage new growth which will be damaged when temperatures drop.
The four most popular tree pruning methods for general pruning are crown thinning, crown raising, crown reduction and crown cleaning. Without a strong and healthy crown, the rest of the tree will weaken over time.
Thinning the crown involves trimming a tree to remove specific live branches to reduce the overall density of a tree. Thinning is the most common pruning performed on mature trees. It increases sunlight penetration and air circulation. It can also reduce stress on selected limbs from gravity, wind, ice or snow.
Crown raising lifts the bottom edge of tree limbs up to clear for traffic, buildings or a view. This tree pruning method should be performed gradually over a long period of time. Removing too many lower branches all at once can result in a weak tree.
Crown reduction is a tree pruning method generally used on older, more mature trees. It can help strengthen the tree and encourage new growth. Crown reduction removes a tree branch back to a growing lateral branch. When the growing season begins in the spring, this lateral branch will become part of the new tree crown.
Crown cleaning is the removal of dead, diseased and broken branches when trimming a tree. It can be performed at any time and should be included as a part of crown thinning, raising and reduction. Cleaning the tree crown strengthens the overall tree, and prevents future damage to both the tree and surrounding property while increasing the overall safety of your landscaping.