Page 164 - 2017-greengate-Gardensense-magazine
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pruning trees & shrubs
Pruning is done to remove diseased or dead
wood, to eliminate crossing branches, to make some evergreens bushier and to shape unruly trees. If done well, it enhances the appearance and health of the tree; if done badly, it can introduce infections and shorten the tree’s life. It isn’t, however, difficult to learn how to prune well. Pruning is actually quite satisfying and interesting. Creating a shape for a tree that is pleasing and natural can be a work of art.
Every branch needs a place to be. If a branch is close to, or already touching or crossing another, it will get worse as it grows. Removing or shortening one or both will create needed space. It also allows air circulation and sunlight, both necessary for leaf growth, to enter the inside of the tree. Dead branches are a potential place for disease to grow, and are best removed. Already diseased branches must be removed if the problem is not to spread to the rest of the tree and possibly neighboring ones, as diseases can spread by insects and wind.
There are a few easy rules for pruning. A branch to be removed completely, or back to a much larger branch, is cut at the outside of the collar, a wrinkled area where it joins the trunk. A branch that is to be shortened is cut just beyond a smaller branch, which will be at the end, and at the angle of that branch. A few years after purchasing a young tree, it is a good idea to evaluate the tree’s structure and create a ‘backbone’ for future growth. Look at the tree from several directions, before it leafs out in the spring, and prune to allow each branch future branch space, and shorten to a practical size and natural shape of that tree. A tree should never look ‘pruned’ after you are finished, simply tidier and nicely shaped. If this is repeated periodically, the tree will rarely need drastic pruning.
tip: Prune spring-flowering shrubs that are over three years old once they have finished flowering.
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