Summer Time Pruning: The Do's and Don'ts

Summer Time Pruning: The do’s and don’ts.

Trees and shrubs grow the most in the spring time.  When summer comes around most growth has occurred.  By this time, branches can start getting too close to the roof, sides of buildings and branches can start hanging down too low.  Interior growth can become too thick, and excessive amounts of shade can result.  For most tree species, proper pruning can be done in the summer, and often is necessary for the reasons listed above.  But there are certain things that you need to be careful about when pruning in the dog days of summer.

Proper techniques for pruning (The Do’s)

Proper pruning consists of removal of dead, rubbing, criss-crossing, broken and interfering branches.  This is called a crown cleaning.  This type of pruning maintains a strong and healthy branch structure that allows a tree to withstand punishing winds.  Pruning cuts are made at the branch collar, allowing the tree to grow over the cuts as quickly as possible.  Proper cuts allow a tree to repel insects and disease easier.  Horizontally growing limbs, and low hanging branches are cut back to reduce the excessive strain on them.  Cuts are made back to secondary (lateral branches) and stubs are not left.  Flush cuts close to the trunk of a tree are also detrimental to tree health and need to be avoided.  Generally smaller pruning cuts are more preferred than larger cuts.  Trees grow over smaller cuts faster than larger cuts, meaning the chance of branch or trunk decay is much less.

Things to watch out for with Summer Pruning.  (The Don’ts)

Don’t over prune- Leaves provide food for trees.  If an excessive amount of foliage is removed, the tree can be weakened and not have enough food producing leaves left.   Over-pruned trees can also get sunburn.  This is called sunscald.  Trees don’t like dramatic changes.  The influx of sunlight from pruning can seriously affect the health of tree bark that previously had been in shade most of the day.  Cracks and decay in the exposed limbs may result and cause permanent destruction to the tree limbs.  Each tree species reacts differently from pruning.  Trees such as magnolia, birch, and Japanese maple do not tolerate heavy pruning and are more susceptible to over pruning problems than other tree species.

Trees such as oaks and American elm trees should not be pruned in the summer months.  Fresh pruning cuts in these species can attack insect pests that carry oak wilt, or Dutch elm disease.  Both of these diseases can be fatal and growing season pruning should be avoided if possible.  Wait until late fall or winter to prune oak and elm trees.

Hoppe Tree Service understands the characteristics of the different trees that grow within our landscapes.  Proper pruning can prolong the health and longevity of a tree, allowing you to enjoy the valuable shade for many more summers to come.  Contact us to schedule an onsite estimate with one of our certified arborists.

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