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A guide to pruning trees

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When to prune trees

Trees that lose their leaves in winter (deciduous trees) are usually pruned in fall and winter. Some trees are even best pruned in late summer (i.e. walnut trees or magnolias) because healing is quicker. Trees that are prone to silver leaf disease should be pruned from April to July, as it is when the spores are not in the wind.

Pruning late winter or early spring can make some trees bleed sap (i.e. walnut trees or birches), which is not fatal but can weaken trees.

Pruning in the summer is a good way to keep vigorous growth under control. Don’t overdo it though, you should only aim to prune no to encourage new growth. Most healthy trees should tolerate light pruning in the summer, so you can remove any weak branches.

Evergreen trees rarely need pruning but you can remove any dead branches in late summer.

How to prune trees

Before doing any work on a tree, you should always check that the tree has not been placed under a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or if the tree is in a conservation area. When working with trees, safety is essential. You should always make an honest assessment of your capabilities, knowledge and available equipment. If you have any doubt, the safest option is to hire a professional.

Always start by removing dead, dangerous or diseased branches, followed by any weak limbs. If pruning diseased branches, make sure to sterilise your tools between cuts to minimise the spread of the disease. Safely dispose of the branches.

Remember to wear protective equipment and always aim to keep a tree healthy but also keep it balanced. Work with the natural shape of the trees and not against it.

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