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HOMELawn Care Articles

by Carole Schwalm A city park scene with manicured bushes and landscaping.

It isn't a true Japanese maple if a bird can't fly through it. It's important to keep them open and airy.*

We prune trees so sunlight reaches it, to beautify, to improve and increase fruit and flower growth. And spring (after all danger of frost has passed), is the time to prune. This is when you remove dead branches and suckers. All benefit the tree’s healthy growth.

Image of a tree with some interesting bark
The beauty of bark -- From “Japanese-Inspired
Gardens” Brooklyn Botanical Society.

Do I love you because you're beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?**

We also prune for beauty. Think of it this way (as shown in the book: Japanese-Inspired Gardens, published through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) The view from any window or from your patio serves as a frame in which to view a landscape painting. It is about shape, size and form, or fine art.

Before you have at it with your pruners, look at the tree from the above angle. Then view what passers-by will see on the other side.

Image comparing a tree with the same tree that has been pruned
This is the same tree, but look what artistic pruning created!

A good size, keeping in-scale with your house and average size yard, for example, is between twelve and fifteen feet high. The growth of pine trees can more easily height and growth restricted than most. They can be pruned into ‘bun-shaped’ clusters (not boxy or like a pom-pom) as well.

Start at the top and prune down. The top of the tree should be rounded (think umbrella and/or a canopy of leaves). Your tree then starts to focus on branching to the side, and not on height. When you cut back on the strong areas, the weaker areas of the tree strengthen.

Encourage any branches that grow outward and down (a cascade effect).

Prune out deadwood and remove crossing branches.

*Francie Schroeder
**Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella

Share your plant pruning experience or if you'd like more information.