Ask a Question
Notify Me On Question Update
Email this Question
I have many large 20-25 feet scrub oak trees on my property. I would like to thin and prune them from the tops in order for them to look like the lower scrub oak I have seen in the area, about 10-15 feet. How low can I cut them from their tops without injuring them and what is the best time of year to do so?
Rate This FAQ
The best way to prune a tree that has grown out of its space and is too tall is to use a method called crown reduction or drop crotch pruning. This method is preferred over topping or pollarding because it is healthier for the tree and the tree keeps a more natural appearance. When making the pruning cuts you want to cut back to lateral branches that are at least 1/3 of the diameter of the limb that is being removed. Once you have identified which branches you want to remove you will want to follow these steps:
With the first cut, make a notch on the side of the stem away from the branch to be retained, well above the branch crotch.
- Begin the second cut inside the branch crotch, staying well above the branch bark ridge, and cut through the stem above the notch.
- Cut the remaining stub just inside the branch bark ridge through the stem parallel to the branch bark ridge.
This method of pruning will help make sure that you do not damage stem tissue when removing the branch. As with all types of pruning you want to avoid flush cuts, cutting the branch off flush with the trunk and stub cuts, leaving a short stub of the branch on the tree. Both flush cuts and stubs can contribute to increased stress and disease in your trees.
For most trees the best time to prune is when they are dormant. Fall is the most common time to prune trees. Pruning trees during this time will allow you to see the structure of the tree and help you decide where you will make pruning cuts. This will also reduce the chance of spreading diseases and excessive sap flow.
You can find more information, including illustrations of proper cuts and definitions of pruning terms, by following this link to the USDA Forest Service guide on how to prune trees. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/howtos/ht_prune/htprune.pdf
Submit Your Suggestion
Other Questions In This Topic
- We have a large pine tree in our yard that looks like it is dying. Can someone from extension come and look at it and tell me if it is dying or if this summer's heat has just caused it to withdraw in. It gets south and west sunlight all day long. Thanks
- I made the mistake of fertilizing my newly planted trees. I had heard that the salty, clay soil I have needs iron useable for the trees. I used chelated. Anyway two of the trees, a candian red cherry and a zelkova tree have dry crispy leaves on the north side of the tree. We have had very hot, windy weather. I have two other canadian cherries that look fine.
- I am an architect, working with a client who wants to hydroseed a 2.5 acre parcel for use as a softball field. The area is currently planted in alfalfa. There will be some regrading (both cut and fill) of the field that will be required. The client would still like to hydroseed this year, likely near the end of September. Do we need to call for the alfalfa to be treated with a herbicide? If so, what is the process, and what herbicide should be used? Is there a waiting period between application of the herbicide and the hydroseeding? Must the herbicide be applied to the above-grade plants, or can the site first be cleared, then the herbicide applied to the gound and roots?
- How late in the fall season can you lay sod in northern Utah?
- I saw a small, dark green, spruce tree planted next to the corner of a home in a nearby neighborhood. Are their dwarf varieties of this tree? It is not an dwarf Alberta Spuce- I have already verified this. If so, what are they called. I would like to find one for my yard.
- I live in Riverton, and have areas in my lawn that are brown and sparse. I planted the lawn from seed, a Kentucky bluegrass blend I bought from a nursery, at least 10 years ago. It grows well in cooler weather, but by summer it looks dead in patches and is stiff, not soft lawn for the kids to play on. I would like to put down some patch seed, but don't know what kind to use and how is the best way to plant. Do I have to take out the old lawn or can I just sprinkle it on and cover with a little bit of soil. Also, is there any way to control the wide leaf weed that grows throughout my lawn as well as the entire neighborhood?
- Why are my older pine and spruce trees dropping their needles?
- We have a 3 year old maple tree that seemed to be doing great, but never lost it's leaves last fall. It showed no sign of life this spring and we were ready to replace it. A week or so ago it started sending out leaves at it's crotch. I'm pretty sure the top of the tree is dead. Do we cut it down to it's crotch (losing at least 8 feet of branches)? Will it regain a shape and will it be strong enough to survive the wind? What should we do with this tree?!