About Pruning Deciduous Trees

Trees are one of the most important elements in a home landscape. Tall-growing trees cast welcome shade and soften the skyline; lower-growing flowering trees decorate the yard with delightful blossoms and provide a lower canopy of foliage. Shade trees and flowering trees are often deciduous — they drop their leaves during the dormant season.

Although they don’t need much pruning if they are planted in the correct spot (not too close to the house, driveway, or other structures), deciduous trees grow more vigorously and develop a sturdier branching structure with some corrective pruning throughout their lives.

Fast-growing and marginally hardy trees require more intensive pruning. Avoid future problems by planting species and cultivars of trees that demand the least care and are suitable for the climate. Avoid any trees that produce weak wood, narrow crotches (branching angles), or surface roots, or that are susceptible to diseases or insects.

The pruning begun at planting time and continued during the next several years determines the strength and shape of the branch structure. As the tree grows older, it is often necessary to prune off branches that are too low, growing in the wrong direction, or damaged by storms. It is also important to learn how to properly reduce the size of a tree that has grown too large for its place in the landscape.