U. Maine Coop Ext Educator Richard J. Brzozowski Using Pruning Shears on a Fruit Tree.
Pruning can affect your tree’s health, make it stronger and more resistant to storm damage (think downed limbs and power lines!), and make it more attractive. By understanding how, when and why to prune you can prevent a lot of problems.
Why prune (in order of importance):
Best times to prune: Now, while trees are dormant and it is easy to get around (vs. wintery with snow). *The one big exception this time of year would be maple trees, as the sap is running. You can prune any time of year, but pruning now also helps with spring growth.
Pruning tools for trees and shrubs: The choice of which tool to use depends primarily on the size of branches to be pruned. The following are the most commonly used by home gardeners.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Educator Richard J. Brzozowski prefers OESCO, Inc. for purchasing tools.
Caring for tools: Wipe down to get the moisture off after each use and lubricate with WD-40 or vegetable oil.
*Safety first! Use tools properly, preferably while wearing gloves (on both hands) and safety goggles (for flying branches…).
Types of cuts:
Visit this University of Maine Cooperative Extension site to see how the 1-2-3 method (meant for limbs with a wider diameter) of pruning works.
The University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension’s website is an excellent resource for information on pruning techniques. Make sure to watch the videos “How to Prune a Lilac Bush” and “Pruning Apple Trees” for great visuals on renewal pruning and pruning of deciduous trees.
Do not take on a job meant for a professional or someone with more experience. This rule generally applies to cuts that require leaving the ground (usually by standing on a ladder). Even the most experienced gardeners will call in the professionals when it comes to getting the job done right (you don’t want to hurt the tree) and for safety! The International Society of Arboriculture provides information for homeowners on when to hire a certified arborist and how to find one. The site also has valuable information on pruning young and mature trees.