A good way to help your young tree stay healthy is to prune it wisely. The best time to prune a tree is late winter, just before the leaves emerge, but right now is the time to inspect for dead and damaged branches—it’s easier to spot them now, when the leaves are gone.
Listen to BOB VILA ON PRUNING YOUNG TREES or read the text below:
When it’s time to prune, those dead or damaged branches should be the first to go. Make your cut at the branch collar, which is the ridge in the bark that surrounds the branch where it attaches to the trunk; that’s where the tree heals best. Don’t cut into the collar, but be sure to cut just outside it. Don’t leave a stub, where pests and disease can enter and damage the tree.
Next to go should be branches that cross or rub. Cut off the smaller of the pair. Then cut off branches that point downward. As you work, keep an eye on how much of the tree you’ve cut—you don’t want to remove more than 15 or 20 percent in one session. As spring approaches, those branches will bear the green leaves that the tree will need to turn sunlight into food, so you don’t want to take off too many. You can always go back next year and take off a few more.
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