Ten Tips for Proper Tree Pruning in Palm Beach Landscapes

Ten Tips for Proper Tree Pruning in Palm Beach Landscapes

By Pamela Crawford

Breakers-ficus-pamela-crawford

Above: I took this photo at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach days after hurricane Frances because I was amazed it was still standing. Ficus are one of the worst trees for wind. The reason it didn’t fall is because the staff at the Breakers had it professionally pruned by certified arborists just two days before the storm. They thinned the structure of the tree so that the wind could go through it instead of blowing it over..

Proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure.  Trees that receive the appropriate pruning measures while they are young will need less corrective pruning when they mature.

1. Identify your tree. Get a picture of the tree’s natural shape and find out its’ normal size. Imagine how you would like your tree to look.

2. Use the proper equipment for trimming. You will need sharp tools: hand pruning shears, lopping shears and a pruning saw. Never use hedge shears to prune a tree.

3. Prune dead and broken branches back to within ½ inch of the live area.

4. Go to the center of the tree and trim out small branches that are not getting enough sun.

5. Cut out worst branches that are growing towards the center of the tree. Remove those that are growing downward and touching ground.

6. Take out crossing, rubbing branches, leaving the healthiest one.

7. Examine young tree for dual leaders, i.e. two main trunks. Trim back one of the leaders (as long as it is 6″ diameter or less).  Allow one dominant leader to remain.

8. Take off suckers. These are skinny branches coming from the base and lower trunk.

9. Fix trees slowly over a 3 to 5 year period.

10. Refer to the Trimming notation for each plant listed in “Easy Gardens for South Florida” and “Best Garden Color for Florida”.  Review Easy Garden Maintenance-Trimming  in the last chapter of “Easy Gardens for Florida”.

Remember that the only real mistake is not to prune at all!

NOTE: Each county in Florida has pruning codes which the homeowner may wish to review.

Pamela Crawford designs landscapes and writes books in Palm Beach County, Florida. This article is appropriate  throughout Pamela’s service area, including Boca Raton landscapes, town of Palm Beach landscapes, Palm Beach Gardens landscapes, Jupiter landscapes, and Wellington landscapes.

You can reach see Pamela’s work at pamela-crawford.com or contact her at info@pamela-crawford.com.

This article was taken from ‘Stormscaping’ by Pamela Crawford.  Copyright 2005, Color Garden, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

Some of this information came from these Web sites. For more information, check them out.

International Society of Arboriculture web site:  www.treesaregood.com/treecare/pruning_young.asp

Plant Amnesty Pruning Guide: Central Florida web site: www.plantamnesty.org/pruning_guides/pg_central_florida.htm

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden web site: www.fairchildgarden.org/horticulture/n_pruning.html