The main reasons for pruning ornamental and shade trees include safety, health, and aesthetics. In addition, pruning can be used to stimulate fruit production and increase the value of timber. Pruning for safety involves removing branches that could fall and cause injury or property damage, trimming branches that interfere with lines of sight on streets or driveways, and removing branches that grow into utility lines. Safety pruning can be largely avoided by carefully choosing species that will not grow beyond the space available to them, and have strength and form characteristics that are suited to the site.
Pruning for health involves removing diseased or insect-infested wood, thinning the crown to increase airflow and reduce some pest problems, and removing crossing and rubbing branches. Pruning can best be used to encourage trees to develop a strong structure and reduce the likelihood of damage during severe weather. Removing broken or damaged limbs encourages wound closure.
Pruning for aesthetics involves enhancing the natural form and character of trees or stimulating flower production. Pruning for form can be especially important on open-grown trees that do very little self-pruning.
(Information found on USDA Forest Service’s Website)
Specific types of pruning may be necessary to maintain a tree in a healthy, safe, and attractive condition.
- Deadwooding – is the removal of dead, dying, diseased, crowded, weakly attached, and low-vigor branches from the crown of a tree.
- Thinning – is the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown. Thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, and helps retain the tree’s natural shape.
- Elevation – removes the lower branches from a tree in order to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians.
- Crown Reduction – reduces the size of a tree, often for clearance for utility lines. Reducing the height or spread of a tree is best accomplished by pruning back the leaders and branch terminals to lateral branches that are large enough to assume the terminal roles. Compared to topping, reduction helps maintain the form and structural integrity.