Pruning: Day #14

We prune different plants differently. What follows, unless specifically noted, applies only to deciduous trees.


Never top a tree.

Topping is when you cut almost everything off, leaving a skeleton behind. New growth will occur, but it grows so quickly from the stubs that it is not well rooted and produces branches likely to fail.

And it looks butt ugly.

Lessons Learned

  • Wear protection on your eyes. (Personal experience.) You can get safety glasses for as cheap as a buck a pair (package of 12) online.
  • Prune after flowering.
  • Three-cut method prevents tearing bark
    1. Six or so inches from the trunk, score the bark on the bottom. (No more than one-third the width of the branch.)
    2. An inch or two farther out, lop that sucker off and timberrrrrrr!
    3. Cut the stub off at the collar (the swollen part of the branch where it meets the trunk) and cut at a slight angle so rain will run off.
  • Don’t paint tree cuts. It never did any good and can trap mold and insects inside the tree.
  • When you thin a tree – math spoiler – half of the growth should be on the two-thirds of the branch nearest the trunk. That is, don’t cut all the stuff close to the truck, leaving just a bunch of foliage on the end of the branch. (That look is called lion-tailing. Think about the bushy end of a lion’s tail.)
  • In general, you can prune deadwood off evergreens, but not much else. Once you prune back the greenery, no growth does not return. So don’t.
  • Finally, are you sure YOU want to prune a tree if you have to climb higher than a step ladder? It’s a long way down, and that ground (Virginia clay) is really hard and generally unforgiving.


  • Pollarding – A French method of pruning similar to topping, but continuing to cut the new growth each year, which creates knuckles on the ends of the surviving limbs. It’s useful for gardens where you want to shape a tree to a certain design. Labor intensive since you trim the new growth annually. And who wants to do that?

Today’s Photo

A mushroom I found in the forest behind our home. It has nothing whatsoever to do with pruning.


First, catch up on all the stuff missed while on vacation in Colorado.

Second, finish test on pesticides.

Third, study up on Herbaceous Plants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.