Having a yard filled with trees and shrubs means you likely have a beautiful landscape. It also means that regular pruning and trimming is necessary to keep it looking so nice. Unfortunately, there are a lot of little pruning mistakes that can be made that will build up over time, eventually deforming or even killing your gorgeous trees and shrubs. The following guide will introduce you to the most common of these errors so you can avoid them.
Topping the tree
Cutting off the top of a tree is rarely a good idea. Trees, like all plants, put on new growth primarily via their apical meristems, which are located mainly at the branch tips. Once the branch stem is removed, there is no longer any meristem, so there can be no new growth. If you give a tree a flat top, it will permanently have a flat top. Since upward growth is now inhibited, new shoots will begin coming out from lateral stems, but these shoots (called waterspouts) are not as sturdy as those from the apical buds, and your tree will be more prone to splitting and breaking.
Leaving behind "nubs"
When trimming off a branch, you must make sure you make the cut flush to the branch collar. This is a raised ring of bark, also known as cork cambium, where the branch joins the main trunk or a larger branch. Don't cut into this collar, though. If you leave a nub, the cambium from the collar won't be able to grow over the wound, and the tree will be prone to infection. There's also no need to paint over the wound, as this can also inhibit healing.
Tearing the bark
When trimming and pruning, it's very important that you avoid damaging the bark. Just underneath the bark layer is another cambium layer, called the vascular cambium. This is the main nutrient and water delivery system for the tree. If it gets severely damaged, the roots can't transport water to the leaves, and the leaves can't send nutrients down to the roots. Eventually, the tree will die. Always cut branches off cleanly so that they don't tear the bark on removal.
Cutting into wood
When trimming shrubs and smaller trees, particularly evergreens, don't cut back into the woody portion of the branches. This is the area where the branches are less flexible, and there are no leaves or needles growing. Cuts need to be made in front of a leaf if you want the bud for that branch to survive and put on new, healthy leaf growth. The leaves also help hide the pruning scar until the wound heals and new growth begins.
For more help, contact a tree service in your area.