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Pruning Young Trees

Winter is often the time we break out the pruners and start shaping trees and shrubs.  Before making that first cut, be sure you are pruning with a purpose in mind.

Strive to maintain the trees natural shape and form.  You will have a long-lived, healthier and more attractive plant.  Prune young trees to establish a strong framework.  Ongoing pruning should maintain this strong structure and healthy growth as well as remove damage, hazards and improve flowering and fruiting.

Wait 2 to 4 years after planting to start pruning young trees for structure.  The more top growth on a young plant, the more leaves to produce energy and help the tree become established.

Start by removing any crossed, parallel or crowded branches.  Develop a framework of evenly spaced branches spiraling up the trunk.  These branches should be as perpendicular to the stem as possible.  The wide crotch angles, like those seen on oaks, are stronger and more resistant to wind, rain and snow damage.

A bit more information:  Continue on-going pruning as the tree grows.  Continue to establish and maintain a strong structure of the tree.  Remove no more than one fourth the total mass of the tree.  Over-pruning stimulates growth and you may end up with more pruning in the future.  In addition, remove upward growing water sprouts and suckers at the base of the tree.

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