Fine-tuning Your Pruning

Pruning tool on branch

Autumn signals it’s time to start your property maintenance routine to protect your landscape from potential winter damage. Corrective pruning of young trees is an important pre-winter tree maintenance activity. When done properly, it promotes stronger branch structure and protects your trees against load damage from snow and wind. Poorly timed efforts and improper technique can do more harm than good. CVC’s arborists offer some tips for fine-tuning your pruning.
Timing: Prune every 3-5 years but only when needed. The best time is late fall and early spring when the tree is dormant. Pruning when the tree is actively growing redirects its energy to healing instead of preparing for dormancy or producing new growth.
Technique: Selectively prune no more than one third of the canopy at a time to improve light penetration and air circulation. Remove weak branches that are dead or diseased to prevent failure during a storm. Never remove the top of a tree as it can severely damage it.  

Example of a pronounced branch collar with a recommended cut line indicating where cut should be made.
Improper cut too far away from branch collar, leaving stubs and preventing proper healing.

Wound Care: You don’t need to cover wounds with tar or sealant. Wounds need to breathe to heal properly and prevent internal decay. Consider leaving cavities, loose bark and cracks as habitat features for wildlife.
Deciding when your trees need pruning and which techniques are best depends on a variety of factors, such as insect infestation, recent damage or disease. When in doubt, consult a certified arborist.

Pruning and property lines: What you need to know

As a property owner, you’re legally responsible for taking care of the trees on your property. If your trees cross property lines, you’re responsible for clean up or repairs due to fallen branches or root damage to neighbouring properties. When a tree lies on the property boundary, ownership, care, and maintenance is shared. Always consult with your neighbour before taking any action, such as pruning or removal.

Do you have a forest instead of a few trees on your property? Learn about our Sustainable Forest Management Services. We can help you create a forest management plan to keep your forests healthy, connected, and diverse. Connect with a stewardship coordinator to help you get started.

Plant a tree and care for it the right way 

Watch these videos to learn how to plant and care for your new tree so that it stays healthy and provides benefits for years to come. Looking for more ways to green your property? We’ve created a playlist of videos to help you get started.

  1. Learn how to plant a tree or shrub in five easy steps.
  2. Learn how to properly mulch around a tree to keep it healthy. 
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