In my four-part series on pruning do’s and don’ts, I hope I have opened up an appreciation for the creative and positive approach of working with many types of plants in regard to their shape, character and physical needs through pruning.
Once you put a pruning instrument in your hands, you should really understand what you are about to cut and the effect of its short and long term outcome. Plants are living organisms and will respond to how you treat them with all their needs and once you make a cut or remove live branches, there are going to be secondary responses from the plant’s point of view, be it right or wrong.
With so many assorted plants out in the landscape today, one must have a broad knowledge of what different plants require and how to treat them accordingly. For instance, you prune ornamental trees a different way than you would prune fruit trees, and you shouldn’t top any tree.
So, it is best to do a little homework and research prior to making a single cut, or consult a professional arborist, in order to protect your investment.
Some reasons to prune are:
• Cleaning out dead or diseased wood or broken limbs and branches
• Eliminating crossing or rubbing branches
• Thinning to open up a tree’s canopy for better air movement
• Reducing the plant’s size in a constrained area
• Reducing the height of a tree so it won’t become a hazard.
• Shaping plants for specific looks such as topiary, hedges or bonsai
• Pruning fruit trees for good fruit production and overall health
• Prune trees that present a hazard near a home or public place
• Pruning for overall health and vitality of various plants
• To raise the lower branches off the ground
• Corrective or rehabilitative pruning, which sometimes takes years of work.
There is a swath of valuable information with informative books out today, that I sincerely advise becoming more informed about arbor care.
Check out your agricultural extension service or local farm advisors office for additional information. Go on the Internet and research through the National Arbor Day Foundation or the International Society of Arboriculture and you’ll have good, sound advice to refer to.
Roger Boddaert is a Certified Arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture and can be contacted at (760) 728-4297.