Selecting, Planting & Caring for Trees


Limit pruning of newly planted trees to corrective pruning. Remove torn or broken branches (save other pruning measures for the second or third year). Once the tree has established a good root system after planting (usually within 1 to 3 years), proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form.

Trees that receive the appropriate pruning measures while they are young will require little corrective pruning when they mature. Location of a pruning cut is critical to a tree's response in growth and wound closure. Pruning cuts should be made just outside the branch collar. Since the branch collar contains trunk or parent branch tissues, the tree will be unnecessarily damaged if you remove or damage it. In fact, if the cut is large, the tree may suffer permanent internal decay from an improper pruning cut.

pruning image

For most young trees, maintain a single dominant leader. Do not prune back the tip of this leader. Do not allow secondary branches to outgrow the leader. Sometimes, a tree will develop double leaders known as co-dominant stems. These can lead to structural weaknesses, so it is best to remove one while the tree is young. A good structure of primary scaffold branches should be established while the tree is young. The scaffold branches provide the framework of the mature tree. Properly trained young trees will develop a strong structure that requires less corrective pruning as they mature. The goal in training young trees is to establish a strong trunk with sturdy well-spaced branches.


Trees that have been topped may become unsightly and hazardous.

Avoid topping trees. Topping leads to:

  • Starvation
  • Shock
  • Insects and diseases
  • Weak limbs
  • Rapid new growth
  • Tree death
  • Ugliness
  • Increased maintenance costs
Pruning Pruning