Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters the form and growth of a plant. Based on aesthetics and science, pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance. Many problems may be prevented by pruning correctly during formative years for a tree or shrub.
Reasons for pruning
Prune to promote plant health
- Remove dead or dying branches injured by disease, severe insect infestation, animals, storms, or other adverse mechanical damage.
- Remove branches that rub together.
- Remove branch stubs
Avoid topping trees. Removing large branches leaves stubs that can cause several health problems. It also destroys the plant’s natural shape and promotes suckering and development of weak branch structures.
Prune to maintain plants; intended purposes in a landscape, such as:
- encouraging flower and fruit development
- maintaining a dense hedge
- maintaining a desired plant form or special garden forms
Prune to improve plant appearance
Appearance in the landscape is essential to a plant’s usefulness. For most landscapes, a plant’s natural form is best. Avoid shearing shrubs into tight geometrical forms that can adversely affect flowering unless it needs to be confined or trained for a specific purpose. When plants are properly pruned, it is difficult to see that they have been pruned! Prune to:
- control plant size and shape
- keep shrubby evergreens well-proportioned and dense
- remove unwanted branches, waterspouts, suckers, and undesirable fruiting structures that detract from plant appearance
Prune to protect people and property
- Remove dead branches
- Have hazardous trees taken down
- Prune out weak or narrow-angled tree branches that overhang homes, parking areas, and sidewalks – anyplace falling limbs could injure people or damage property
- Eliminate branches that interfere with street lights, traffic signals, and overhead wires. REMEMBER, DO NOT attempt to prune near electrical and utility wires. Contact utility companies or city maintenance workers to handle it
- Prune branches that obscure vision at intersections
- For security purposes, prune shrubs or tree branches that obscure the entry to your home