Archive for the ‘pruning’ Category

An afternoon with Prunella Monday, March 29th, 2010

March is the perfect month for pruning and I finally got into my shed and found my tools – though they need a sharpening I set about pruning a couple trees. 1 was my daughter’s maple. I took out a couple competing leaders, some branches that were crossing or bound to rub and took out a few extra branches to allow air movement – much less likely to have severe branch breakage during future windstorms. With the fruit tree, it will also allow for easier picking which won’t be for another 3-5 years (pears don’t bear fruit until about 7 years old).

When pruning you can take up to 1/3 of your branches out – but no more. It’s both easier on you and and your tree if you trim some small branches every year instead of waiting for them to get bigger and then deciding to take them out — you’ll need heavier-duty pruners or a saw and it leaves a much bigger wound on the tree.

An additional school of thought on fruit tree pruning is that you should be able to pick from your knees to as high as you can reach while standing. I debated this but couldn’t bring myself to lop off the top of my tree. Above it the before and after of my pruning of my pear tree – I have another planted at the same time but is double the size. I haven’t tackled that one yet. One thing I didn’t realize about pear trees is that the branches are lined with shorter branch/thorns. These are wicked especially when trying to mow around. I even had one nearly go through my shoe that was on a branch I trimmed – I made sure to pick up all of them and dispose where they couldn’t do any harm.

Sun-scalded maple

My daughter’s maple is showing more wear from sun scald. It’s now going into the main layer of the trunk. This is quite unfortunate – not much can be done I fear. I’ll just have to watch it and we may possibly picking out a new tree in the next 5 years. I’ll do a little more research before writing it off completely.

Pruning her tree I took out two extra competing leaders. These are branches that are surpassing the main lead branch rising straight from the trunk. Competing leaders can put stress on a tree and cause the branches they are on to be too weak to support them. This is how trees end up splitting in a storm. I took off the lowest branch as well. It was getting heavy and a very acute angle. The perfect angle means you can take your finger and run it all the way down to the crook of two branches while still touching both.

Spring has sprung Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The 30F changes are a bit off-putting but hopeful. Also, not knowing what sort of clothes and gear to send my child to school in . . . snowpants? galoshes? boots? hoodie? mittens? Ah, spring in South Dakota.

Now’s the time of year to inspect your trees and shrubs for shape and crossing branches — trim them OUT. It’s the perfect time to prune and any discarded branches can be kept as markers or used for pea and bean tipis if long enough. Using a sharp scissors, pruner or saw — depending on branch size — cut as close to the base of the branch as possible, without cutting into the cuff (the slight bulge at the very base of the branch). This cuff will then heal over quickly and become nearly unnoticed within a couple years. Early spring is a great time because there aren’t leaves getting in the way and trees are just starting to break dormancy.

Cut any branches that:

  • Cross
  • Rub
  • Grow back into the center of the tree or shrub
  • Dead or diseased looking
  • Water sprouts (smaller straight-up growing branches)- some species are more prone to a flush of water sprouts than others
  • Are in the path of or hitting — mowing, driveway views, fences, windows, roof/shingles

** If there are any encroaching on powerlines, call a professional