TX Organic Research Center



Pruning - Bad & Good

Examples of BAD PRUNING. 

Many tree pruners are gutters and lifters. Some homeowners are too Ė especially men. Itís genetic, manly stuff to cut up and hack up stuff. I know Ė Iíve been there. Letís talk about the good, the bad and the ugly pruning techniques.

To trim a tree properly, stand back and look at the overall form of the plant. Do this before you make a single cut. The overall shape and character that you see before you start is what you should still see when the pruning is finished.

Remember that every cut hurts the tree. Youíve heard that thinning trees is good for them, but itís not. Thinning may be good for the grass and other plantings under the tree, but it is not good for the tree. Heavy thinning is called gutting and is severely damaging. Cutting off lower limbs, lifting, is in the same category. If limbs are in the way Ė hanging too low over the driveway or hitting you between the eyes or scraping your head when you mow the lawn, cut them off Ė just donít be fooled that it is good for the tree. Itís not. It only benefits you. No pruning paint either. Nature doesnít use it so why should we?

Photos by Howard Garrett

                                             Too many cuts close together.  

    Grossly improper pruning showing flush oval cuts that removed the branch collars.


Examples of Good Pruning


Left shot is a proper prunning cut leaving the branch collar fully intact. No pruning paint was or should be used. Right photo shows an improper flush cut healing poorly. 

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