Pruning Newly Planted Trees for Landscaping: A Guide for Beginners

Learn how to properly prune newly planted trees for landscaping with this guide from an expert! Find out when is best to prune young trees and what tools you need.

Pruning Newly Planted Trees for Landscaping: A Guide for Beginners

Pruning newly planted trees should be limited to removing dead or broken branches. All other pruning should be suspended until the second or third year, when the tree has recovered from the stress of the transplant. When you first plant a tree, cut off any broken, defective, or damaged branches to avoid future problems. For the most part, the best time to prune young trees is in late fall, during winter or early spring.

There are four main benefits of pruning during this period. Plants that bloom on new wood can be pruned in early spring, just as new growth begins. This gives them enough time to recover from pruning and still produce buds that will bloom that season. The ideal time to do this is after the buds have emerged from the stems, but before they expand. At this point, you can see where the new healthy growth is, and pruning before the leaves come out means the plant won't expend energy on the buds that you'll simply cut off anyway.

During this season, you can prune azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, honeysuckles and many other shrubs. With this range of tools, a homeowner can do almost any pruning job they can find, except for large branches or tall trees. However, retail nurseries are also guilty because they often offer to prune a new fruit tree to gardeners who buy bare roots. This creates another burden by allowing the newly planted landscape tree to survive, helping the trees to support themselves. In almost all cases, trees grown in nurseries will require some structural pruning so that a shade tree can develop strong, effective branches that support the crown for decades to come without fail.

Although expensive, a pole saw or a pruner are also very useful for safely pruning tree branches from the ground. Tightly staked trees grow taller than unstaked trees and their trunks may lack caliber or tapering (increased trunk diameter at the bottom of the stem).When selecting a tree in a nursery, it is very important to understand the architecture of that species well and to have that image in mind when selecting the tree. As for safety, it is advisable to let a professional tree company prune tall trees or large diameter tree branches. As global temperatures rise, tree planting programs become increasingly important for cooling our environment around buildings - especially in cities.

Branch faults in newly planted trees are best corrected during the first year; they are easy to correct in the first few years and problematic later. Of course, not ALL nurseries behave this way, but customers should be vigilant and look for trees with a strong central leader and a terminal bud that they can keep after planting.