Here is a great excerpt from an amazing book we came across recently. We are always looking for new and fresh ways to gain knowledge about trimming and pruning plants. It is our livelihood and we take it very seriously.
The Book title: How To Prune Trees Shrubs & Climbers
Author: Richard Bird
Your aim with a neglected and overgrown tree is to turn back the clock and do all the things that should have been carried out in previous years. The best time to rejuvenate an old tree is in the late autumn or early winter. Start, as always, by removing any dead, diseased or damaged wood. This should remove quite a bit of material and allow you to begin to see the structure of the tree. Next remove any water or epicormic shoots along with any weak growths, especially those that have developed in the centre of the tree. Where branches cross over or rub against other branches, cut them out. The tree should now begin to look the way it should.
Examine the tree closely to assess weather there is still any overcrowding and weather anything else needs to be removed. Perhaps the tree has been regularly “pruned” by somebody who hasa simply gone over the outside of the tree removing the new extension growth on the tips of the branches, so that it has thickened up around the perimeter, a bit like a hedge. You will have to reduce and thin this growth drastically to bring the tree back to something resembling a normal appearance.
Not all trees like to be pruned hard all in one go, as it can often kill them. It is usually better to prune them over a number of years, taking out just a bit each time. This means that the tree will look untidy over this period, but this is better than a dead tree.
Renovation is a drastic treatment for any tree, so make certain that it is fed and kept watered during any dry spells the following summer. Mulching will help to preserve soil moisture.
A lot of the pruning work on an overgrown tree inevitably takes place well above the head of the gardener, usually on ladders. If you do not feel confident to carry out this work yourself, then employ a specialist firm who will have had a lot of experience in dealing with this kind of renovation work. This is particularly important if you need, for example, to take out a dead crown from a large tree.
Conifers are very popular trees and shrubs, forming an architectural backbone to the garden that varies only slightly from season to season. They are also relatively easy to grow and require little attention once they have been planted. Unfortunately, many gardeners do not realize that they must be treated differently from their deciduous relatives. How often do you see a row of dead coniferous trees where the owner has decided that they have grown too large and so has lopped off half of each tree, only to discover that it was the wrong thing to do?
Crtting into old wood
Most conifers are very reluctant to put out new shoots from old wood, so cut back only into the new growth. Cutting back into the older wood creates a bald patch, and removing too much can result in the death of the tree. If you want to control the height, either ensure in the first place in the first place that the tree you buy will reach only the height you want it to, or be prepared to treat it like a hedge and clip it regularly once or twice a year, removing only some of the new growth.
What to prune
Having placed restrictions on pruning of conifers, there are still tasks that need to be carried out. As always, any dead, dyting, damaged or diseased wood should be cut out, preferably as far back as possible. Also remove any odd growths that stick out beyond the required shape. Do not leave these for too long or they may grow too vigorously and leave a hole when you remove them. Similarly, on variegated conifers, there may be some reversion (plain green leaves), and this needs to be removed or it will gradually dominate to the detriment of the variegation. As we have already mentioned, a light clipping to keep the size and shape is generally the best strategy, but this is really only necessary with trees where the shape is very important, such as with pure cone shapes or slim columnar tree.”
I really like how as you see above the author contrasts the difference between cutting a deciduous tree and a conifer tree. It is a common mistake in the tree service industry and in Anderson, IN we have many of both kinds of trees. It is not by chance that we come across many dead conifers in the field after they have been mulled to death by a do-it-yourselfer that didn’t know what to do.