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Tree pruning guide

You can learn to prune trees! 

A well-pruned tree looks better, is healthier and lives longer. Tree pruning is not hard, but there are a few rules of thumb you should know before you take out your saw and start hacking away. See below, and enjoy the photos from our recent tree pruning workshop!

Also, please note that these guidelines are for homeowners working on trees on their own property. If you see a street tree that needs pruning, please contact the City's roadside tree care expert, Rocio Latorre, at rlatorre@mountrainiermd.org

1) Plan before you cut. Think about which cuts will make the tree healthiest and most attractive.

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2) Create a clear leader.
 Trees should have one main stem, not two or three competing stems.

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3) Limb it up. Trees should spend their energy toward growing tall, not growing fat around the base. Cut off limbs up to a third of the way up the trunk.

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4) Make tree-friendly cuts. When removing a sizable limb, cut it off in sections rather than all at once. Don't leave a stub, but also don't make the final cut flush to the trunk. Leave a collar so the tree can heal quickly.

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5) Create space. If several branches are close to each other, clear out some to give the others room to grow. Especially cut branches that are growing across other branches.

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6) Pick the right time. In winter or early spring, when trees are dormant or just starting to bud out, is the best time to prune.

7) Don't overdo it. Remove no more than 20% of a tree's total mass at one time.