Pruning Checklist

Pruning trees isn’t tough, but it can be intimidating. If you're not sure how to prune a tree, follow these five easy tree-pruning tips for perfectly-pruned trees.

Pruning trees correctly isn't complicated but it's a task that often confuses home gardeners. Next time you prune, follow this simple checklist that ends with great results. First, remove any broken, dead, or diseased branches you see. Cut them back to the next healthy branching point. Next remove low hanging branches that interfere with mowing or other activity. Then look for branches that cross close to each other or actually rub together. Remove the one least consistent with the tree's general form. Suckers, often called water sprouts should be clipped off. Now look for limbs that conflict with the overall form of the tree. Generally branches grow out and up and away from the trees center but if you see one growing straight up through the center of the tree or crossing horizontally through it, remove it. On trees with a definite central trunk, especially conifers like spruce and fir, remove competing shoots to avoid weak forks later on. Your trees are now ready for some spring time sun.