How To Prune An Ornamental Tree Updated : January 14, 2020 27 Comments Wanted: People Who Would Like to Get Paid to Grow Small Plants from Home Take a gander at these posts...Pruning Azalea BushesLandscape Design TipsDo You Have Shotgun Fungus?Tree Stump Removal InstructionsCheck Out My Billy Goat Outback Brush Cutter!
Zack Clayton says
I have a pair of Coronas that I got in high school working for the city Parks and Forestry Dept. I still use them 49 years later. The other nice thing about them is they are easy to sharpen if they get (rarely) dull. I do bonsai and I need them for large cuts which need a sharp tool and a clean cut.
I prune my crepe myrtle trees (5) about a foot back every year. They were planted close to the house so I trim them back rather than transplant them. They bloom beautifully every year. My larger ones are limbed up, shaped and full at the top when in full bloom. I do have a smaller one I keep about 5 ft tall in the front of my yard.
Carol Muller says
I prune my trees and shrubs all the time to keep them in shape and give them “breathing room” – I think it is healthier for them. . I also prune the tops of my dogwoods and other ornamentals to shape them – they really do look better.
I do not know what the problem seems to be with the other folks that are against the topping of the trees and shrubs
I read where someone was saying to you that it is NOT a good idea to go on a ladder in the snow- Now this is Grandma talking to you Mike. Do NOT do it anymore. You are a big guy and if you fall, your address could change! —- and not for the better. Then how will we be able to read your articles?
. The only reason I do not do much of that work in the winter is because I get too cold
Joe T says
Mike, You did this work way back in 2011. Why don’t you show what the tree looks like now?
I no longer have access to the tree, Duston sold his house. But the truth is the tree was planted too close to the house, the pruning helped a lot, but I think he removed the tree before they moved. It was just in the wrong place which is often the case.
Joe T says
Thanks, Mike. In all the time I have been watching your videos the one thing I admired about you is that you do not try to to b/s about something you may have done that turned out to be wrong. You come right out and say “OK this didn’t turn out right, I should have ………” and I always thought highly of people that are not afraid to say they made a mistake. I do the same thing. To me that is confidence in trying to do the right thing. No matter how much knowledge we have, we all make mistakes now and then. Show me someone who never makes a mistake and you are showing someone who never tries to do anything. And maybe that’s the biggest mistake of all.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m far from perfect, I am truly not book smart educated, but after a lifetime of doing this kind of work I’ve made a million observations that just make sense. I don’t always get it right, but I try to be honest about what I do that works or doesn’t work.
Wow!!! All the pollard haters are out! I actually hate them as well, but I now find that there is a large number of people that actually like that “tree looking like a hedge.” Because the “natural” look might be fashionable right now, does not mean the very trimmed topped tree is wrong, unless the tree becomes a danger to houses, cars, people etc. I have worried over tree that have been topped by the power company contractors and they have only taken the tree down to 50 feet and it is a conifer…talk about weakening the tree, that is an accident waiting to happen! Around my neighborhood, there seems to be a craze for fruit trees and they are all hedged both top and bottom so they look like clouds on a stem.
Rich Andrews says
I have been following you for a while now and I enjoy all your videos and stuff. But this tree pruning of ornamental trees, any trees really. Mike, getting on a ladder in the snow? I’m not sure that’s good advice. Also topping a tree is not good for the tree. the tree will get all kinds of little branches under and around the cut edge. those little branches will create and even more dense canopy of tiny useless branches that have to be pruned away. Why not promote planting the right tree in the right place. Then all this pruning can be avoided. Mike I still enjoy your commentary, I just disagree this time.
Your input is appreciated and planting the right tree in the right place is great advice, however, that rarely happens. Most people who buy plants, take them home and plant them put very little thought or research into the project. So in the real world people have to deal with what they have, not what they should have had to begin with.
Joetta Robeson says
I need to know how to root grape vines. I know you had an article on that a few months ago and I
am having trouble finding it.
Also, when I click on the Business Center, I do not get access to buy plants, but just to the newsletter and comments. What am I doing wrong?
See this on grapes, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2014/01/how-to-propagate-grapes-from-hardwood-cuttings/. If you joined the business center, http://backyardgrowers.com/join, then you’ll need to login to access the members area. If you did join, Duston can confirm your membership and help you get logged in. Contact him at [email protected]
I have crepe myrtle only few ft high and few ft wide, with branches all the way to the ground. I want it to grow with a tall trunk like a tree, not a bush.If I cut off lower branches, there won’t really be anything much left. Do I cut off all except very top branches? If so, when? I live in Okla. Dianne
Bruce in Royalton Mn. says
Hi Mike, A little constructive criticism. You should have mentioned checking the tree for diseased/dead branches/sections. Then a short synopsis on the proper time of the year to trim would have helped, as in never trim an oak in summer before the 1st. of august and why that is so important. Then the biggest omission, you forgot to mention the all important branch/bark collar and it’s significance in the trees’ ability to heal the pruning wound. I’ve been a fan for years Mike, and really enjoy your videos. I would only give this one a “C” because I know that a person of your caliber (caliper ?) can do much better. Stay warm, burn some firewood my man.
tori w says
have a hard time watching the videos. No block on my computer, but am never able to watch
Topping a tree ruins the structure of a tree and should never be done. You will end up with a profuse growth of small branches at the tops of the braches that were cut. You will always be able to see where it was topped. The tree will have to be topped every year to avoid that. A topped tree is an ugly tree, and allowing it to grow after being topped is even uglier. Planting a tree too close to the house is a very common problem. If a tree is too close at mature size it should be taken down. Take it as a lesson learned and plant a new one further away. Research the mature size of the tree and pace off the full mature width from the house to the planting location. That will look far away at first but in a few years it will look just right.
Gene, I appreciate your input but in this case it just isn’t practical. I didn’t plant the tree, just trying to make the most of a situation allowed to get out of control. This tree will fill out nicely this growing season and provide a great deal more to the yard than it did before it was trimmed. Trimming it saved cutting it down and then dealing with the large stump. Sometimes you just have to deal with what you have.
Warren B Maclean says
Hi Mike .. Happy New Year to you and your family.
Just would like to say that I really value your advice .. Since receiving your regular emails and videos I have learned a lot of good garden practices .. I’m retired now and live in France ( Ex UK ) .. so have more time to devote to the garden .. however, my garden is very much smaller compared to yours ! …. and I have to admit it is secondary to my main interest of clockmaking that consumes most of my time and spare cash. Really into it as much as you are with your backyard garden projects .. So this next bit may sound a little lame .. But really .. If I was not so engrossed with my lathework and clocks I could become very interested in your line of work and would participate fully and more intensly than I do at present…
Sincerely wish you more and more success with you project and thanks again for your valued advice.
Kind Regards .. Warren
Warren, thank you. My adivce to you is “follow your passion”. Life’s short, do what makes you the happiest.
Deborah Cox says
I really wanted to see if you have as hard a time as I do reaching those top branches. Haha.
Deborah… it was tough, we had two different ladders and still had to do some fancy footwork to finish the job! It will look good come spring though!
Atul Bhattacharjya says
Nice but a closure view would have been better. I am interested in the shaping of trees by way of pruning small ornamental trees like Christmas tree.
Atul, this is how the story ended. It wasn’t my tree, it’s in my son’s yard. We talked about it and he wanted the tree cut back really hard. It either had to be cut back hard or come out completely. So we cut it back hard knowing it would come back nicely. But had I shown that on video I would have gotten blast about how wrong it is to prune a tree that much. We gave the tree a chance. If not, it would have had to come down.
Mike – you are truly a hero of mine! Been following for years. Need to go ahead and get system; might have the time in 2011!
Will, as soon as you get my backyard growing system you’re going to wish you had done it a year or two ago. Most folks do. Join us today!
ornamental tree& shrub says
You shouldnt top a tree!!!