Mature tree pruning made easy

by Natasha Starkell | 14.01.2014 | 5 steps | medium | 15 - 90 Min. | Rating: 3 votes

If a macho in you resists hiring a tree surgeon, this is what you need to know about pruning large trees.

There are millions of mature trees in gardens across the nation, and all need a little prune now and then to keep them looking their best. The time of year to prune depends on the tree type, but in general, evergreens should be pruned in April, and deciduous varieties in the winter. Plums are an exception, and these trees should be pruned during the summer months. Pruning trees can be dangerous, both to the trees and to you, so either hire a tree surgeon if pruning your tree requires special equipment. Use the following steps to keep safe and get the best results.

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Tools
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
Pruning saw for older and woodier stems
Safety is key - pruning trees

Safety is key - pruning trees

Safety is key - pruning trees

Step 1

Safety is key

Safety is a key aspect when pruning mature trees, and you need to ensure that you have the capabilities to reach out to the upper branches to prune effectively. You also need to check if there is a preservation order on your tree, because if there is, you’ll need to seek out council approval before pruning begins. Consider hiring a professional tree surgeon if your tree is too high or if special power equipment is required for pruning.

Items:
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
Pruning saw for older and woodier stems
dead branches

dead branches

pruning mature trees

Step 2

Remove dead branches

Identify dead, diseased and crossing branches that need to be removed. Always start by removing dead, diseased or crossed branches. Then, step back, take in your tree, and decide which branches should be pruned to make it look better.

cut a branch - pruning trees

cut a branch - pruning trees

cut a branch - pruning trees

Step 3

This is how you cut a branch

Using sharp loppers and saws, make a small incision on the underside of the branch, 0.5cm in front of the bud to prevent killing new growth (and don’t cut back behind a bud as this may cause rot and diseases to enter the dying stub.). Then, cut the branch off completely by pruning from the top of the branch to the small incision underneath. 

Remove large limbs

Remove large limbs

Remove large limbs - pruning mature trees

Step 4

Remove large limbs

When you take off large limbs, remove the majority of the branch first, before cutting back to the trunk. Start by pruning back to 30cm away from the trunk, making an undercut prior to branch removal to avoid tearing the bark. Then, remove the remaining stub in a similar way, making sure to cut back only to the collar – a small bulge at the trunk and branch intersection – so as to avoid injuring the tree. 

Do not remove more than a quarter of the tree’s crown.

Avoid using wound dressings

Avoid using wound dressings

Avoid using wound dressings - mature trees pruning

Step 5

Avoid using wound dressings

Despite a common belief, avoid using wound dressings to cover the cuts. Dispose of the cut branches after the job is completed. You might want to dry and use them in a fireplace.

Tools
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
Pruning saw for older and woodier stems
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