I would like to venture a little deeper into proper pruning practices.† As you know, this is an extremely complicated topic, so letís narrow it down to one area at a time.† When it comes to pruning trees, there are many opinions and many different methods of pruning, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.† That being said, the following is a general guideline to follow.

Whatever your reason for pruning, it is best to do it in the fall or winter after the leaves have fallen.† This makes it easier to see what needs to be removed, and what obstacles the tree presents in accomplishing this task.† It goes without saying that the really big projects should be left to a professional tree or landscape service.† The dangers involved with removing large branches, both to yourself and your property, make it worth the extra expense of hiring someone to take care of it.† For the smaller projects, follow these guidelines.† If youíll be using a chainsaw, make sure it is operating properly and that the chain is sharpened before you begin.† If it was stored for the past year with fuel in it, it probably should be given a good once over by your local repair shop.† It wonít do to be halfway through cutting a branch and have it quit on you.† Check the chain occasionally to make sure itís still fastened tightly onto the bar.† If you are using a pruning saw, make sure it is sharp and in good repair.† If the branch is large, it may need to be secured to avoid having it fall and cause damage.† Cutting it in several smaller sections is generally safer and easier in the long run.† Finally, once youíve finished cutting a branch, use a pruning seal to coat the fresh cut on the tree.† This is more of a concern during spring and summer, and although a tree typically seals itself off within about 2 hours of being cut, youíre better off sealing it yourself so that you donít have to worry about insects finding the fresh wound.

As far as what to prune, removing dead or damaged wood is a necessary task. These branches, during heavy winds or with the weight of ice or snow this winter can break out of the tree and cause damage to whatever is below.† When they decide to make their grand exit, they rarely do so without causing extensive damage to the tree.† Large tears down into the tissue below the falling branch are common and best avoided.† Removing overgrowth or low-hanging branches or thinning of the canopy are other common reasons for pruning. Elevating the level of the canopy as well as thinning it to provide additional sunlight to the lawn and plants below is a good idea.† There are a couple of methods used to achieve different looks.† Some like to remove all of the interior branching, leaving only the outer canopy of leaves, while others simply thin out the interior to allow more light to filter through.† Planning is critical to maintain the integrity of the treeís overall shape and appearance when removing even a small number of branches, but the plant life below will welcome the additional light.

Regardless of the reason you are pruning, please use every precaution and work safely.† Remember again, what took years to grow takes seconds to remove, so plan carefully.