Caring For Newly Planted Trees – Pruning

Like staking, pruning is an “as needed” procedure, although the need in the first year is not great.  In fact, because young trees need every leaf that they can get their chloroplasts and vascular bundles on, pruning should be avoided in most cases.  If branches are removed at planting time or shortly after, the tree is being deprived of critical carbohydrate and sugar making ability.  Branches that are oddly oriented should be left for removal in year 2 of the planting.  Be sure to document this need for your maintenance planning purposes and then return to the tree the next year to remove them.



Some trees are badly misshapen and must be pruned minimally after planting.  Defects such as co-dominant leaders, badly rubbing branches and broken branches fit this category.  These problems are severe enough that taking the opportunity to “fix it” right away is justified.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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