November 23, 2014

Forestry Division

Street Tree Planting Program tree1The Street Tree Planting Program is designed to help individual homeowners plant trees along the streets of Sterling. Through this program, the City will reimburse the resident for 50% of the cost of the tree, up to a maximum of $100.00 per tree. A brochure listing the trees approved for this program, a reimbursement application, and other details of the program are available at the City Hall receptionist desk, at CIty Hall. Participants are encouraged to buy their trees from local nurseries.

Keys to Good Pruning

(reprinted with permission from the Tree City USA Bulletin)

  1. Prune early in life of the tree so pruning wounds are small and so growth goes where you want it.
  2. Begin your visual inspection at the top of the tree and work downward.
  3. Identify the best leader and lateral branches (scaffold limbs) before you begin pruning and remove defective parts before pruning for form.
  4. Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts. For aesthetics, you may feel better painting larger wounds with a neutral color tree paint, but the evidence is that it does not prevent or reduce decay.
  5. Keep your tools sharp. One-hand pruning shears with curved blades (secateurs) work best on young trees.
  6. Make safety a number one priority. For high branches use a pole pruner. Some require both a saw and shears on the same tool. A major job on a big tree should be done by a professional arborist. Tree Trimming
  7. When you prune back to the trunk or a larger limb, branches too small to have formed a collar (swollen area at base) should be cut close. (Notice in the drawing of the pruning shears that the cutting blade is cutting upward for less effort and a close cut.) Otherwise, follow the rules of good pruning of larger limbs by cutting just outside the branch ridge and collar and at a slight down-and- outward angle (so as not to injure the collar). Do not leave a protruding stub.
  8. When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a lateral bud or another lateral branch (referred to as “head” or “headback pruning”). Favor a bud that will produce a branch that will grow in a desired direction (usually outward). The cut should be sharp and clean, and made at a slight angle about 1/4 inch beyond the bud.

When to Prune

tree2Depends to a large extent on why you prune. Light pruning and the removal of dead wood can be done anytime. Otherwise, here are some guidelines, but recognizing that individual species may differ. Winter Pruning during dormancy is the most common practice. It results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring and should be used if that is the desired effect. It is usually best to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed. Some species, such as maples, walnuts and birches, may “bleed” when the sap begins to flow. This is not harmful and will cease when the tree leafs out. Summer To direct the growth by slowing the branches you don’t want; or to slow or “dwarf” the development of a tree or branch, pruning should be done soon after seasonal growth is complete. The reason for the slowing effect is that you reduce the total leaf surface, thereby reducing the amount of food manufactured and sent to the roots for their development and next year’s growth of the crown. Another reason to prune in the summer is for corrective purposes. Defect limbs can be seen more easily, or limbs that hang down too far under the weight of leaves. Autumn Because decay fungi spread their spores profusely in the fall and healing of wounds seems to be slower on fall cuts, this is a good time to leave your pruning tools in storage. Flowering Trees If your purpose for pruning is to enhance flowering; 1. For trees or shrubs that bloom in summer or fall on current year’s growth (e.g. , crape myrtle), prune in winter. 2. For trees that bloom in spring from buds on one-year-old wood (e.g., dogwood, and flowering fruit trees), prune when their flowers fade.