As any Toronto landscaping contractor can attest pruning trees and hedges can be devilishly difficult to master. There are a lot of things that could potentially go wrong and virtually no way to rescue a tree that’s suffered at the hands of an overzealous pruner. The keys to successful pruning are patient consideration and restraint. There’s simply no substitute for taking one’s time to consider before laying into a tree with a chain saw and no substitute for making sure you’re cutting back in the right spot. If you rush the process or approach it in a haphazard fashion you’re going to make pruning mistakes you’ll live to regret. Below we’re going to outline 6 of them.
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What is “Pruning”?
Before we go any further we should probably define “pruning” for readers that may be unfamiliar with the term. Generally speaking pruning is the removal of parts of a plant so as to promote a healthier form and more robust growth. Material is removed in a way that minimizes damage to the tissue of the hedge, bush or tree and which will allow for the fastest possible healing. Pruning, as mentioned, is performed to promote more robust growth but also to improve the quality of the fruits, flowers and foliage emanating from the plant. And just as properly timed, well executed pruning by a qualified Toronto landscaping company can drastically improve the health of a plant so too poorly timed and executed amateur pruning can stifle growth or even kill the plant altogether.
Take These Pruning Tips from a Toronto Landscaping Contractor to Heart
Now that we have a working definition of “pruning” let’s take a look at 6 pruning errors you’ll wish you could take back.
- Pruning at the Wrong Time – Pruning is not something that should be done whenever the urge presents itself. There are definitely good times and bad times to prune trees, bushes and hedges and pruning at the wrong time can have catastrophic effects. Ideally you’ll want to prune in the winter or at the latest, the early spring in Toronto. Plants are dormant at this time and have little if any foliage so you can clearly see what you’re cutting. By contrast pruning in the fall will act to stimulate new growth at precisely the time the plant is getting ready to shut down for the winter. The result can be a severely weakened bush or tree.
- Topping – Topping is one of the most common pruning errors and one of those mistakes that’s out there for everyone to see. As a general rule no more that 20% of foliage should be removed at a given time. When someone engages in topping however, they remove most or all of the leaf bearing branches of the bush or tree in one fell swoop. Topping is typically done in order to reduce the size of a bush, hedge or tree but is often carried out in a ruthless fashion that promotes decay and leads to sun damage, infestations and even death.
- Cutting too Close to the Trunk – Inexperienced pruners often make the mistake of cutting away branches too close to the trunk. When they do so they inadvertently remove what’s call the “collar” of the branch. As any experienced Toronto landscaping contractor can tell you the collar contains cells that help a tree heal over after a wound. Removing this collar can leave a tree open to infection or infestation by all manner of harmful pests. Once either of those things occur your tree is on a slippery slope to an inglorious end.
- Ripping the Bark – Trees and bushes are hardy, right? They can take all kinds of abuse from nature and still manage to live a century or more, right? Well, yes and no. Trees are indeed incredibly tough but there are some things that can weaken them physically and leave them susceptible to disease, rot and pests. One of those things is bark ripping. Bark ripping is the result of less than clean cuts that cause a portion of the bark to tear away as the cut portion is removed. It often occurs when branches are shorn from a tree during a hurricane or similar wind event but it can also be the result of impatient or otherwise poor pruning practices.
- Lopping – Lopping is when the amateur pruner decides to reduce the size of a hedge or tree by simply cutting off the ends of most of the branches. The idea seems to be that by reducing the profile of the plant that plant will fill in better and be generally healthier. The reality however is that lopping can lead to uneven, unattractive growth that will typically need to be cut back in short order. Instead of simply lopping off the end of branches it’s better to cut them at a branch union or node. This will allow the wound to heal over faster and more completely and lead to a healthier plant in the long run.
- Leaving Stubs – When removing branches it’s important not to cut them off too close to the trunk lest you remove the collar as noted above. But it’s also important that you don’t leave too large a stub because this will often promote unattractive and vulnerable growth. In time as the trunk expands over the stub a weak point will be created that’s vulnerable to rot and which could compromise the integrity of the entire trunk.
Pruning might seem like a fairly straightforward practice but if it’s not done properly you could doom your hedges, bushes and trees to an untimely death by way of infections, infestations and rot. If you believe your trees and bushes could benefit from pruning call the Toronto landscaping contractor more GTA homeowners trust than any other: ME Contracting, Toronto. We’ll evaluate your trees and bushes and make recommendations for how to proceed based on best horticultural practices. Give us a call today to learn more.