The Art of Tree Pruning

As if I don’t have enough on my plate with home brewing and all, I decided to take up a new hobby last month!

Our landscape has been a bit overgrown lately, and I’ve been developing my green thumb skills to spruce things up a bit. Or, downsize rather. A good friend of mine owns a tree service company in Charlotte NC and he paid a visit to our property. He’s actually the one who pointed out that our landscape needed a little love and he taught me a little bit about the art of tree pruning.

Why is this important and relevant to brewing beer, you might ask? Well, we grow a lot of plants and trees on premises and we use the fruit, herbs, and flowers to flavor the beverages we brew. (As a matter of fact, we’ve been looking into starting a hop farm someday, so this is definitely a skill we’ll need to have. But that’s another post for another day.) Regardless, when your backyard looks like this, it’s definitely time to take up gardening as a hobby …

overgrown yard

We had some bigger trees that were in desperate need of pruning. Good thing Drew brought his tools and decided to give us a lesson! I learned a lot of interesting things and will be applying this going forward to ensure we always have a healthy landscape and a good supply of healthy plants to cultivate for brewing purposes. 🙂

Why should you have your trees pruned?

There are many reasons, but the main ones are: to clean up your landscape, to bring life back to a weakened or dying plant, or to promote flowering. Failing to prune your trees can result in their health being compromised or make landscape maintenance a horrible and dreaded chore for you in the future. It’s best to keep up with pruning every so often to ensure these things don’t happen.

Tree pruning promotes growth.

Sounds weird, right? But have you ever heard someone say that cutting your hair will make it grow faster? I think the principle is similar here. Plants by their very nature prefer to grow in an upward direction. It’s how they respond to gravity and light. The top of the plant is called the “leader” and it prefers to remain higher than all other branches, which are called laterals. In order to do so, it produces a hormone that prevents the lateral branches from growing. When the leader is pruned or cut, it starts the growing process.

There are 2 basic pruning methods.

A thinning cut, which is considered the best method, consists of selecting and removing a single branch all the way back to a lateral stem. The reason why this method is preferred is because it encourages even growth at all levels of the plant instead of just at the top. The second method is known as the shearing method which involves cutting all branches. This starts a cycle of raging hormone production that causes excessive growth and creates a dense cover over the tree that shades the interior part. The tree then becomes more susceptible to disease and pests and will eventually decline—unless the cycle is broken.

While shearing can be an effective pruning method for winter, it still necessitates thinning immediately afterwards to allow for proper light and airflow.

In short, for your trees to be healthy, you want them structured properly. This is the art of tree pruning. It is both an art and a science and a balance of both is essential to a healthy foliage canopy.

That basically sums up the knowledge I gained over the last few weeks. If you have more questions about tree maintenance, our friend Drew at TreeBien Tree Care is a professional Charlotte NC arborist and a great resource! Check out his website and feel free to give him a call.

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