Pruning of Mature Trees
Douglas L. Airhart & Guy Zimmerman III

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Topping Hurts!

Protecting Trees

Tree Root Myths

Pine Bark Beetles

Live Christmas Trees


List of Figures

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    Pruning Trees- Pruning of Mature Trees:

Established middle-aged and mature trees also need basic maintenance pruning. Basically, the techniques and considerations that we applied to young trees are continued. But because we attempt to identify and remove problems while the tree is young, the pruning required will be less dramatic and occur less frequently as the tree matures.

(Figure 7-17) Sequence of Proper Pruning.

This figure represents the progression of appearance of a properly pruned tree: at transplant, at 3 to 5 years, at 5 to 7 years, and at 10 to 15 years. Intermittent removal of temporary branches and crown cleaning has occurred. 


From Tree City USA Bulletin No. 1, 1997, Used with permission of The National Arbor Day Foundation.

Established and maturing trees should be inspected every three to five years for pruning and maintenance needs. The main concerns for pruning middle-aged and mature trees are:

Removing the Five Dís (dead, dying, damaged, diseased and deformed limbs);

bullet    Identifying crotches with included bark and thinning those branches to reduce their weight;
bullet    Identifying any new codominant leaders and either thinning or heading them back to retard their growth;
bullet    Thinning the canopy to allow better air circulation and light penetration;
bullet    Identifying and removing any girdling roots.

In addition, Gilman (2002) and Gilman and Lilly (2002) provide excellent guidelines and examples for pruning mature trees. 

General pruning considerations for a mature tree are shown in Figure 7-18. Notice that it indicates that the main weight of the canopy should represent no more than two-thirds of the total height of the tree. Basic thinning and slight canopy reduction techniques are presented.

From Tree City USA Bulletin No. 1, 1997, Used with permission of The National Arbor Day Foundation.

(Figure 7-18) Pruning for Structure, Shape, & Canopy Reduction.

 The trunk should be no more than one-third of the tree height, or it may become top heavy.


Purpose    Right Tree / Right Place    Selecting Trees    Transplanting Trees    Mulching & Staking    Summary Diagram     Pruning Trees    Topping Hurts!      Protecting Trees     Tree Root Myths     Pine Bark Beetles     Live Christmas Trees     Glossary     List of Figures    List of Video Vignettes    Related Links     Bibliography is maintained by: Douglas Airhart, Ph.D. Certified Arborist & Jeff Plant, Ph.D, Last Updated on: 07/11/03