6 Reasons to Prune a Deciduous Tree Within a Few Years of Planting

13 October 2015
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles


Many property owners don't bother to get their young deciduous trees trimmed, figuring it's pointless to do it before the trees are several years old. However, for various reasons, arborists recommend pruning these leafy shade trees within a couple years of planting. Read on to learn a few reasons why.

1. Helps Maintain Balance & Strength

Pruning young trees encourages strength, since weak branches are removed. In addition, trees sometimes grow asymmetrically in response to other trees, buildings and natural forces. During pruning, young trees are returned to better balance. 

This type of pruning prevents trees from becoming a hazard during high winds, heavy rain or heavy snow. Large, strong branches are much less likely to break off than weak branches are. A tree that isn't lopsided is less likely to fall over. 

2. Maintains Proper Form

Pruning for structure also creates an appealing shape that is likely to remain as the tree grows older and larger.

The main branches are chosen during the initial pruning and competing ones are trimmed away entirely. This way, no main branches are too close together. The technician chooses branches that are angled from the tree in a healthy way. They should be more vertical than horizontal, but with a wide angle rather than a narrow one.

The tree trimmer essentially is training the tree in how the branches should grow. 

3. Eliminates Double Trunks

Healthy trees should have one main trunk. Extending from the trunk is a primary branch known as the leader. A tree that develops two leaders is at risk of splitting down the middle. Even trees that grow broad and wide should have only one trunk and leader with many large branches known as scaffold branches extending outward. When two dominant leader branches develop, one can safely be pruned away when the tree is still young. 

A related issue involves a large branch that extends higher than the leader. It may become a competitor for dominance, leading to excessive weight as the tree gets bigger and a more significant risk of breaking off. That branch should be trimmed back to restore the tree's balance as well as its symmetrical appearance.

4. Eliminates Problem Branches Early

A tree service technician identifies branches that are already becoming problems within the first few years after planting. Branches that rub against one another or that cross are examples. Some branches may already have experienced damage from a storm or other incident, and they should be cut off.

5. Removes Suckers

Root sprouts, commonly called suckers, grow up from the tree roots at the base of the trunk. If not removed when they are relatively new, they become strong and thick, and they detract from the tree's appearance. Removing them later may risk killing the tree. 

Property owners may be tempted to attack those sprouts with herbicide, but poisoning them can kill the tree.

If suckers are a continuous problem year after year, a tree service technician may recommend excavating the soil in a way that will not harm the tree. Typically, only one root produces the sprouts, and the technician may be able to safely prune that root and end the problem. 

6. Minimizes Damage

When branches are removed while the tree is still young, less damage is done compared with removing branches that are 10 or 15 years old. The wound is not as big and thus is less susceptible to insects and disease. The tree does not have to devote as many resources to healing it, and recovery is faster.  

What You Can Do Now

Call a tree trimming service via resources like http://www.schulhofftlc.com to prune any trees that were planted within the last few years and have not been trimmed yet. This will be a substantial benefit for the health of the trees and the safety of your property.