17. Practice selective pruning on young trees

Proper pruning helps trees maintain balance and integrity and can prevent more serious problems years later. Trees respond best to pruning when they are young (two to six years old). Trees younger than two years old generally should not be pruned. Mature trees respond best to occasional basic pruning. For more substantial pruning, particularly if it cannot be done from the ground, seek help from a certified arborist.

Areas of Interest: Looking Around, Physical Labor
Ingredients: Clean and sharpened pruning shears, two ready hands
In Winter:
Competing leaders — If more than one limb competes to be the main trunk, choose the straightest or largest and remove the competition.
Lower limbs on the trunk – If the tree grew well in the summer, remove 2 or 3 of the lower limbs.
Limbs too close — Prune limbs that grow directly above each other or cross one another.
Dead branches – Remove dry, brittle branches just below the dead wood.
Broken branches – Clean cuts heal better than ragged tears.
Water sprouts – Remove branches growing straight up from limbs.
Suckers – Prune growth coming from the rootball.
DO NOT apply wound paint. It can seal diseases into the tree.