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1.Now we will do the detail work in the canopy
of the tree.Use a good ladder!This magnolia has some dead stubs left over from poor previous pruning.Cut off the stubs, again flush with the trunk
at an angle.
2.The last step is to thin the canopy.We want to
create a canopy that is uniform and open, to allow good air circulation for the
leaves.Find any overcrowded areas where there are many branches emerging
close together, and choose some of the smaller ones to remove. Use your
previous experience: look for crossing or rubbing branches, and also those
which are growing towards the inside of the tree.We want to encourage branches which are growing outward and upward, and not
towards the center of the tree where they are likely to run into other
branches.However, don’t get too
prune-happy with flowering species such as this magnolia (or crabapples, for
instance) because the little branches carry the flower buds.Here, we have before and after pictures of
some thinning cuts, eliminating some minor growth to let larger branches grow
Before thinning After
3.Here we are!Bottoms up, your shrub or small tree will be
around the bottom - you pruned off the suckers!
~ spreading open in the middle - you pruned out crossing/rubbing
~ open in the canopy - you
pruned out minor branches in crowded areas!
The best part
of pruning is admiring your renovated tree or shrub!
this unkempt magnolia...
Into this lovely magnolia!
And look at your nicely pruned Japanese tree lilac! Remember the lilac tree we started this pruning tutorial with?
tutorial, we are restoring two multi-stem shrubs, a magnolia and a Japanese
tree lilac, that have gone unpruned for several years.These general pruning techniques are
applicable for any of your trees or larger, tree-like shrubs.We like to do pruning in early spring before
tree leaves obscure our view of branch structure, but this type of pruning may
be done any time of year.
at the bottom.Look for suckers,
which are small shoots growing from the base alongside the trunk.Suckers need to be removed before they get
big enough to start diverting energy from the growth of the main trunk.Cut them off with a sharp pruners or
2.Now the we can clearly see the
base of the magnolia, sucker-free.
3.Now we can examine the structure of the larger stems as they
grow from the ground and start to branch.We want these stems to be healthy and uniformly spaced so they can form
a nice crown to the tree.Look
especially for large stems that are crossing
or rubbing, like the two on the left.This creates wounds which are good entry points for insects and
which stems to retain at the bottom by looking at how they progress further
up the tree.Often, a branch crossing or
rubbing near the bottom is also causing similar problems further up.Imagine the gap you will leave in the canopy
when you cut out your ‘culprit’ branch, but don’t be afraid if there is a space
for now - the ‘culprit’ will only cause worse problems in the future!Here, we cut off the smaller of the rubbing
5.Now that we addressed crossing branches at the
bottom of the tree, we continue to look for similar problems further into the
crown.Here is an area with multiple
small crossing branches.We removed two
of these, opening the area up so the remaining branches can grow
healthily!Be sure to cut these branches off flush with the trunk
so the wound can heal over well - no
stubs left over on the main trunk.
6.We have now established a nice structure to the bottom of the tree - no crossing or rubbing
branches, and the remaining stems are more uniformly spaced and have room to
Check out Part II of this pruning tutorial next: Pruning the canopy of the tree