Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trimming Trees in Winter

Too many little branches on the trunk.
Winter is the ideal time for doing any major tree trimming. The main reason for this is that during the winter trees are dormant and not focusing their energies on growth. Another reason for pruning in the colder months is that the threat of insects attacking, and possibly infesting or infecting the tree's wounds is greatly diminished, if not eliminated. You should trim away dead branches as soon as you notice them, as this can be a gateway to disease or infestation, but save your major changes for the winter months. Another benefit to trimming in winter is that without leaves on the trees it is easier to see the limbs.

After I trimmed off the excess branches.
The main reason for a major trimming or pruning operation is to shape and structure your tree correctly. For evergreen trees this may be to encourage a conical shape to improve light absorption to the lower branches, which will promote health in your tree. For trees such as fruit trees it may mean encouraging upward growth and a good access to light for all the branches of the tree. This should optimize fruit production and overall health of the plant.

This branch crosses another.
This winter I pruned my fruit trees. The first task was to remove all the branches from the trunk area. The main purpose to this is to encourage your tree to grow upward, not outward, and to provide easy access for harvesting fruits. It will also help with the health of your tree. The upper branches, as they develop, will prevent the light from reaching these lower branches causing them to be sickly. Removing these lower branches will help your tree to utilize its energy on growing its upper branches, which, in the long run, will be healthier branches.

These little branches will grow to the center.
My next task was to remove any branches growing toward the center of the tree, or that would overlap other branches as they grew. As these branches develop, they will shade the branches below them, causing the lower branches to become sickly.

Since these branches were not very thick, I was able to use pruning shears to trim them. I made sure that my shears were sharp and trimmed as close to the trunk as possible, so that the scar would lay flat. If you have larger branches to remove, you will need a saw. Please note that there is a technique to trimming branches with a saw so that you don't damage the body of the tree. I will try to cover this technique in a later post.