What are the Benefits of Pruning Trees and Plants?
In the horticultural context, pruning is the selective removal of certain parts of a plant or tree, like branches, that are harmful to the development and health of the plant. It generally involves the removal of dead, dying or damaged branches. The focus is to improve the health and overall appearance of the plant or tree.
Pruning is sometimes used interchangeably with trimming; however, there is a line of difference between pruning and trimming in the landscaping industry. Trimming is typically used in reference to small hedges or shrubs, while pruning is mostly used for trees and plants.
Pruning is an essential part of plant and tree care. The following are the benefits of pruning your trees and plants:
1. Pruning Provides Good Appearance
A lot of time and effort is involved in the maintenance of a landscape, but all of this can go down the drain if we don’t manage the growth of the trees and shrubs in the landscape. Overgrown trees and plants reduce the visual quality of a landscape, and hence they need to be regularly pruned.
If a shrub or tree has a thick canopy, pruning its dense outer growth will allow sunlight to reach inside, thus promoting the healthy growth of the inner branches, giving an overall lush green look to the tree or plant.
Shrubs do not grow in the shape we want. Pruning all the shrubs and small trees in your landscape such that they grow in similar shapes will make your outdoor space look cohesive and increase your curb appeal.
When young trees are pruned regularly, it helps them grow in structurally sound shapes that do not disrupt the other aspects of your landscape.
Pruning to reduce the density of the canopy of a tree has environmental benefits as well. It allows sunlight to penetrate through the branches of the tree and reach the plants and grass below it. Adequate sunlight is necessary for proper photosynthesis. Therefore, thinning out thick tree canopies will help promote the healthy growth of plants and grass below it.
2. Pruning Provides Safety
Proper pruning of trees and plants also keeps your property safe from damage and your family safe from injury. Dead, diseased and loose branches are extremely vulnerable to storms. Strong winds can cause these types of branches to break away from the tree and damage your house and car.
Damaged branches are prone to falling in good weather, too. If they fall suddenly, they can seriously injure the people sitting and any children or pets playing under the tree.
Overgrown branches near your house will rub against the outer walls and damage the siding. If the branches reach your windows, then they provide perfect entry points for insects and bugs to invade your house.
If branches grow too wayward, they can damage utility lines like electricity and phone lines, creating a lot of avoidable inconveniences.
Therefore, you should regularly check your trees for diseased, damaged, dying and overgrown branches in order to create a safe environment for your family and property.
3. Pruning is Good for Plant Health
Just like human beings, trees and plants affected by diseases become weak, hindering their ability to grow normally. Therefore, pruning off diseased branches of the tree or shrub at the right time will eliminate the disease from the plant and extend its life. This also prevents the disease from spreading to the rest of the landscape, thus keeping the environment healthy and disease-free.
Insects and pests can also be managed with a proper pruning schedule, as pruning increases visibility and helps internal issues in plants and trees to come to light quicker. This will give you a headstart in creating an insect and pest control program and protecting the health of the rest of your landscape.
Dying and dead branches need to be pruned so that they do not use all the nutrients that could be used by the healthy parts of the plant or tree.
Regular pruning is also known to stimulate new, healthy growth by promoting new shoot growth. Young trees grow to be strong and possess high tolerance at maturity if they are pruned regularly and correctly. Pruning the trees when they are young also reduces the risk of failure and prevents defects such as included barks and the formation of co-dominant stems. But be careful not to prune trees in their first year of growth.
Thus, pruning your trees and plants helps keep the environment free from insects, disease and unhealthy tree growth where the branches compete for sunlight and rub against each other, causing damage to the bark.
4. Pruning can Maintain Plants and Landscapes
Proper pruning helps encourage shrub aesthetics and train the younger trees in the correct direction of growth. Therefore, pruning helps in maintaining the desired shape and size of shrubs and plants, thus giving your landscape a well-maintained and consistent look.
Pruning helps develop new buds and stimulates healthy fruit growth as the canopy opens up to allow sunlight and air penetration. With fewer branches and leaves, a plant or a tree can focus all its energy on flower and fruit production. This will help maintain the natural order of the environment by creating a healthy ecological cycle.
Trimming your hedges to maintain equal height, and shaping your shrubs, plants and trees as per your desire, adds aesthetic appeal to your outdoor space.
What Should Be Considered While Pruning?
Now that we have established the benefits of pruning plants and trees, Edenapp brings you a list of tips on how to prune plants. These are the points one needs to consider while pruning because not all plants and trees are created equal and have different pruning requirements. Improper pruning is known to cause more damage to plants and trees than a disease. This is a difficult fact to swallow, and one you don’t want to be true for your landscape.
But you don’t need to worry because the experts at Edenapp have curated a list of tips that will save you from harming your precious plants and trees. Read on!
- Modify your pruning technique according to the intended purpose of the plant: Every plant in your landscape has an intended purpose. There are flowering plants, fruit trees, hedges and other kinds of trees. Since their purpose is different, the type of pruning they require is also different.Flowering plants require pruning at a certain time of the year, and their cut is also particular. Trees should be pruned with the intention of removing unwanted growth and suckers from around the bottom of the trunk. Fruit trees are pruned to decrease their canopy so that sunlight can penetrate the inner branches and cause healthy fruit production. Hedges are pruned to keep them dense. So, their shoots are pruned to encourage new shoot growth in multiple branches. Therefore, you need to first classify each plant and tree in your landscape according to their purpose and then start pruning them.
- Plan your pruning: Know what you want to prune before picking up your shears; don’t whack away branches recklessly. See which branches are dead or dying, inspect for disease, and then make the cut. The wrong cut might not kill your plant, but it will certainly impact the health of your plant and tree. You could also end up removing healthy shoot growth.Keep in mind the shape you want to achieve as well as the growth pattern of your plant and trees, and then cut the branches that will contribute to a natural shape. If you remove branches without a plan, your tree or shrub might grow in an undesirable shape or direction, thus impacting the aesthetics of your landscape.
Use the right tools for pruning: Using the right tools while pruning is half the job done as it makes the task a lot easier and more efficient. Well-maintained tools will surely improve the performance. Here are some essential tools you must have for pruning:
Hedge Shears: These are only used for pruning hedges to keep them dense and not a lot else. They cut succulents and small stems very well.
Pruning Shears: These can cut stems of up to ¾ inches in diameter and are one of the most important pruning tools.
Lopping Shears: These are similar to pruning shears but have longer handles that make cutting branches with thickness up to 1½ inches easy and comfortable.
Hand Saws: There are different types of hand saws available, like razor tooth pruning saws which can comfortably cut branches up to 4 inches in diameter. They are mainly used for cutting branches of more than 1-inch thickness.
- Prune at the right time: Plants should be pruned based on when their flowering season is. If the plants are going to bloom in summer, then they should be pruned in early spring to stimulate healthy and fresh growth when summer comes. Some examples of summer flowering shrubs and plants are Rose-of-Sharon, Summersweet, Bush Honeysuckle, etc.Evergreen hedges like Juniper and Boxwood should also be pruned in early spring before new growth sprouts. They should be pruned from the bottom to the top. Fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, pines and spruce should be pruned in early spring. For fruit trees, pruning is aimed at thinning the outer growth to allow sunlight to enter into the canopy and produce buds; for pines and spruce, pruning is done to control their size and shape. For spring-flowering plants like Rhododendrons, Dogwoods, Lilacs, Forsythia, etc., you should wait till after the flowers have bloomed to prune them, or you will be removing buds that will produce flowers. But don’t wait too long after they bloom because, in this case, you will be removing buds that will flower the next year. Therefore it is important to know the type of plants you have in your landscape so that you can time your pruning appropriately.
- Be mindful of your pruning cuts: When pruning, you should also consider the placement and angles of your cuts. You should not cut too close to a new bud. If you do so, you will cause the bud to wither and die. But you should also not cut it too far away from the bud because then there will be dry brown wood above the wood, reducing the visual appeal of the plant. A cut at a space of half an inch above the new bud is recommended by Edenapp.
The angle at which you make the cut also matters. If the cut is too angular, then this will not lead to new growth. A 45-degree angle is recommended by Edenapp for the cut as this makes sure that the new shoot is healthy and reduces the risk of decay due to water.
For trees with large limbs (over 1 – 1½ inches in diameter), use the 3-part cut method:
Make the first cut underneath the branch, 6-12 inches away from the trunk of the tree and about a third of the way through.
The second cut should be made 3 inches away from the first one and towards the end of the branch. This will make the branch fall.
Lastly, the remaining stub should be cut to the branch collar.
How Often should Pruning Be Done?
Pruning to remove dead, diseased, dying, and damaged branches and stems can be done at any time of the year, whether it is a tree or a plant.
The frequency of pruning a tree to stimulate growth depends on the age and type of the tree. Fruit trees need to be pruned every year for a higher-quality fruit yield. Mature trees of every type needed to be only pruned once every three to five years, while younger trees require pruning every two to three years. Evergreen trees and firs can go many years without needing to be pruned. Deciduous trees should be pruned during early spring (February to March, depending on the geographic location).
As mentioned before, for plants, the time to prune them to stimulate growth depends on their blooming season. Spring flowering plants and shrubs should be pruned after all the flowers have bloomed, and summer flowering plants should be pruned during early spring.
Perennials can be heavily pruned during late winter as they are dormant during this time. Dormant pruning benefits include reducing the stress on the plants during winter and boosting new growth during the spring and summer seasons.
What Trees and Plants Should Be Pruned?
Most trees and plants can be pruned while keeping the right time of pruning for each of them in mind. The trees that require minimal pruning are evergreens, firs and conifers. They can survive many years without requiring a single cut.
When pruning conifers, one should stick to pruning only the new growth. If you cut the old wood, it will not grow back.
Pruning is a landscaping task that requires proper knowledge of the types of plants and trees in one’s landscape. While incorrect pruning will not kill your vegetation, it will certainly harm the overall health and quality of your landscape. And after investing so much time, money and resources, you don’t want it all to go down the drain just because you made a few wrong cuts. Therefore, hiring professionals like Edenapp to prune and trim your landscape. We have qualified specialists like certified arborists that will take care of all your tree care requirements. Contact us today to learn more
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