When should I prune my trees?
Posted on: October 12th, 2018
It’s now October and after the heat of the summer, our trees and plants are heading into the dormant season. For many novice gardeners, you may immediately think that October is the ideal time to prune your trees.
In reality, it is actually best to avoid cutting back plants right now.
Your trees’ natural activity is slowing as they prepare for the colder months. Decay fungi spread their pores far more profusely in the autumn and any wounds to your tree take longer to heal. This means that trees are much more susceptible to disease and ill health at this time of year so it is a good idea to leave the pruning tools in the shed for another couple of months.
Winter pruning when your trees are fully dormant tends to be the norm, although it is advisable to wait until the coldest temperatures have passed. Winter pruning leads to a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring.
Pruning do’s and don’ts
Pruning thins the canopy of a tree, helping to restore health by increasing sunlight and air penetration. Removing dead and damaged branches also helps prevent insect decay.
Don’t worry too much if it seems as if certain species of trees, such as birch or walnut, ‘bleed’ when pruned – this is completely normal as the sap flows.
The majority of a tree surgeon’s work involves tree felling and removal or tackling natural disease and decay. Unfortunately, there are times when we have to try to fix problems that have occurred as a result of amateur gardeners pruning their trees without the proper knowledge. Sadly, incorrect pruning can actually cause irreversible damage to your tree – damage that could lead to its premature death.
If a human cuts themselves, over time, their body seals and repairs the wound. A tree heals differently – it grows over the wound, concealing rather than repairing it. This means that every cut has an impact on a tree, which is why you need to know what you’re doing or utilise the expertise of a professional.
For example, were you aware that the location you prune is vital to your tree’s health? You should only ever prune just outside the branch collar, which contains trunk tissues. If these tissues are damaged or removed, it could result in permanent damage.
You should never over-prune. If you remove too much foliage, your tree may starve as each branch is needed to provide enough food to feed the trunk and roots. At least 50% of the leaves in the lower part of the tree should remain.
Are you using the correct tools? If you are pruning young trees, you should use hand pruning shears so that you can ensure that any incisions are precise and no more than absolutely necessary. Always use sharp tools – blunt blades can inflict more stress on the tree, making it more difficult to recover.
Remember that trees have managed to thrive naturally without human intervention; however, in our gardens we do sometimes need to help them a little. However, it is important to make sure you know what you’re doing – working at height, particularly whilst holding sharp tools, comes with substantial risk to both you and your tree. If you are in any doubt, please call in the professionals.
Tree surgeons have been fully trained and are highly experienced in such work. Please don’t take unnecessary risks – call Prince Tree Surgery on 01277 229709 to speak to one of our tree surgeons.