How to trim mesquite trees?

Mesquite Grubbing

We are based in Kerr County near Comfort, TX, however, we provide land clearing services in all of the Texas Hill Country as well as North Texas, South Texas, and Central Texas. Below is a list of counties that we frequent.

(Austin County, Atascosa County, Bexar County, Bandera County, Blanco County, Burnet County, Bell County, Bosque County, Brown County, Bastrop County, Burleson County, Brazos County, Brooks County, Bee County, Comal County, Caldwell County, Colorado County, Coryell County, Comanche County, Coleman County, Concho County, Callahan County, Coke County, Crockett County, Dimmit County, Duval County, Dewitt County, Denton County, Collin County, Edwards County, Erath County, Eastland County, Ellis County, Frio County, Fayette County, Falls County, Freestone County, Gillespie County, Guadalupe County, Goliath County, Gonzales County, Grimes County, Hidalgo County, Hays County, Hood County, Hill County, Hamilton County, Irion County, Jim Hogg County, Jim Wells County, Jackson County, Johnson County, Jack County, Jones County, Kleberg County, Kendall County, Kerr County, Kinney County, Karnes County, Kimble County, La Salle County, Live Oak County, Lavaca County, Llano County, Lee County, Lampasas County, Limestone County, Maverick County, McMullen County, Medina County, Menard County, Mason County, McCulloch County, Mills County, McLennan County, Milam County, Palo Pinto County, Parker County, Real County, Refugio County, Runnels County, Starr County, San Patricio County, Sutton County, Schleicher County, San Saba County, Somervell County, Stephens County, Shackelford County, Travis County, Tom Green County, Taylor County, Throckmorton County, Val Verde County, Victoria County, Wilson County, Wharton County, Washington County, Williamson County, Wise County, Young County, Zapata County)

We will travel anywhere if the job is large enough. If you have a small job we will typically nest small jobs together in order to cover as much ground as possible within our current service area.

Mesquite Tree Pruning: Learn When To Prune A Mesquite Tree

Mesquite (Prosopis spp) are native desert trees that grow really fast if they get a lot of water. In fact, they can grow so fast that you may need to do mesquite tree pruning every year or so. What happens if you don’t get around to cutting back a large mesquite tree? It gets so heavy and large that it splits in two or falls over. That means that homeowners with these trees in the backyard need to know how to prune mesquites and when to prune a mesquite. Read on for tips on pruning a mesquite tree.

Mesquite Tree Pruning

If you don’t get mesquite tree pruning right the first time, you’ll have plenty of second chances. These desert trees can grow between 20 and 50 feet (6-16 m.) tall if they get plenty of water. Tall, full mesquites require annual pruning. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to ease off mesquite irrigation when the tree reaches the size you prefer. The tree will grow less and require less pruning.

How to Prune Mesquite

Pruning depends on the condition of the tree. When you do mesquite tree pruning on a vigorous tree, you might remove some 25 percent of the canopy. If you’ve cut irrigation and a mature tree’s growth is stagnant, you’ll just do some basic pruning.

When you are pruning a mesquite tree, start by removing dead, damaged or diseased branches. Remove them close to the point of origin.

Use pruning shears or a pruning saw when you are cutting back a mesquite tree branch. If the tree is overgrown or in danger of collapsing under its own weight, remove additional branches – or, in this case, call in a professional.

One important tip for pruning a mesquite tree: wear heavy gloves. Mesquite trunks and branches have large thorns that can do some serious damage to naked hands.

When to Prune a Mesquite

It’s important to learn when to prune a mesquite before you jump into pruning. First, don’t start cutting back a mesquite when you initially transplant it into your garden. Only do essential pruning the first season or two.

When the tree starts growing up and out, start annual tree pruning. Damaged branches can be cut back at any time year round. But for severe pruning, you’ll want to do it when the tree is dormant.

Most experts recommend that pruning a mesquite tree should wait until winter when the tree is dormant. However, a few experts claim that late spring is the optimal pruning time since the tree heals wounds more swiftly at that time.

How to Trim Mesquite Trees

mesquite image by Robert Freese from

Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) grows low but dense: the tree tops out at 35 feet in height and width, yet the canopy can grow quite dense, not allowing light and air inside. The tree is native to North America and grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6b to 9. Pruning mesquite annually allows you to control the shape and size of the tree and to promote tree health though air circulation. Prune in the spring when frost danger passes.

Prepare a sanitizing solution by mixing one part bleach and 10 parts water in a bucket. Place your pruning tools in the bucket. Cut off all dead, diseased and damaged wood at its base. To avoid infecting healthy parts of the tree, dip your pruners back in the sanitizing solution between each cut.

Prune off branches that crisscross or compress other limbs. Identify dead, diseased or damaged branches on your mesquite tree that must be removed to protect tree health. Damaged or diseased branches will be broken, discolored or marred, while dead wood feels brittle and does not move in the wind. Cut the offending branch at its base. This prevents future limb damage.

Trim back long limbs, working one at a time. Cut the limb back to a lateral branch or just before a leaf node.

Thin out dense growth from the mesquite canopy. The tree grows very thickly and will sport lots of dense, tangled regions. Thinning out the canopy promotes air circulation, which helps keep the tree disease free.

Here’s when and how to prune your trees in Arizona

Palo Verde (University of Arizona Photo)

When you live in the desert, the pruning of the trees in your yard raises a lot of questions: What time of year should pruning occur? Should they be trimmed, crowned, rounded or what?

John Eisenhower, a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, suggested homeowners look at standards set by the American National Standards Institute before pruning them or hiring someone to do the work.

Eisenhower, owner of Integrity Tree Service of Phoenix and a regular guest on Rosie on the House, said, instead of asking someone they hire to do trimming or cutting or rounding, homeowners should request pruning objectives, including minimum and maximum branch diameters and the percentage of foliage to remove.

Other concepts to remember:

Your trees probably need to be pruned at various times of year.

December through February is the best time to prune deciduous trees.

There is also a way to prune apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots and nuts to dictate the height of the fruit-bearing branches that can keep the fruit from being too high in the tree at harvest time.

Citrus trees need to be pruned after mid-February to avoid frost damage.

“Lion’s tailing” or “topping” should never be done to your trees.

These are improper pruning operations that make trees more vulnerable to sun and wind damage.

Topping is often done when trees grow taller and branches hit the house or hang over the roof. Tree owners think the only solution is to aggressively cut large stems to reduce the height or spread of the tree, but these cuts made at predetermined heights only encourage sprouting at the ends of the branches.

These large cuts are also the entry points for decay fungi to invade the tree.

A better method is to cut branches back to side branches at least one-third the diameter of the branches being cut. This reduces sprouting and leaves trees looking more natural.

In “lion’s tailing,” interior branches of a tree are over-pruned, leaving behind long slender limbs with a puff of foliage at the end that looks something like the tail of a lion.

This technique can lead to sprouting as well as sunburn on the trunk and lower limbs on super-hot days.

The heavy branch ends also collect the force of the wind and are more prone to breakage in storms.

For sun- and frost-sensitive trees, reduce the percentage of foliage that you remove.

During the middle of winter and summer, avoid pruning these trees altogether or only lightly shape them.

Citrus trees seldom need heavy pruning. It’s best that citrus branches grow down to the ground to shade their thin bark from the sun.

Most desert species should be pruned during the spring or fall.

Spring or early summer pruning of mesquite and other vigorous desert trees can prevent damage during the summer monsoon storms.

Palo verdes are more sun-sensitive, so avoid summer pruning and, as a rule, reduce their pruning dosage. Smaller and less vigorous desert trees that don’t require preventative monsoon pruning can be pruned in the fall.

Pruning later in the year tends to hold shape longer during the fall and winter months when tree growth slows down.

Be careful about elevating lower branches on young trees.

In an effort to get their bushy trees to look taller, homeowners often resort to cutting off lower branches too soon, but this only handicaps trees by robbing them of the energy reserves produced by those branches.

When you remove any live branch, you don’t promote growth in other parts of the tree, you simply reduce photosynthesis and overall health. Temporarily leaving lower branches on will accelerate the growth of upper branches.

When top branches begin to reach their mature height, you can start removing the lower branches, one or two each year until you reach the height of your lowest permanent branch.

A Guide to Pruning Native Sonoran-Desert Multi-Trunk Trees


How to Prune a Native Sonoran-Desert Multi-Trunk Tree


Trees in their natural form are just fine without pruning. You prune a tree because you want to be able to walk around or under it, or you want the shade of a taller canopy.


Pruning is best done when the tree is dormant. For most trees this is in winter. You can also prune in the fall or early spring.

You can start pruning a tree after it is three years old. There are auxins in the tips of the branches that relate directly to root growth. If you prune too many of the branch tips in the early years of the tree’s life, important root establishment will be slowed. Quicker root establishment means the tree is less prone to blowing over in winds and can get by with less water sooner.


Start from the bottom and prune up. Never top-prune a tree. Top-pruning a tree turns it into a damaged shrub.


Start with small branches (5/8 inch or less) and use hand pruning shears. Cut as close as you can to the branch you want to keep, leaving the branch collar (a raised section of bark on the underside of the branch) intact (Fig. 1).

Cut as close as you can to the branch you want to keep, leaving the branch collar intact.

When you cut close to the branch you want to keep, all the energy that would have continued feeding the branch you cut off will instead go up into the branch you kept. If you cut far away from the other branch and leave a stub, you increase chances for disease, create a hazard that someone could catch an eye or an article of clothing on, and set up a bad branching effect. A branching effect is created because the energy goes into the stub but has nowhere to go. The tree then makes lots of new spindly branches – creating more pruning work. Do it right the first time! Remove whole limbs or branches and do not leave a stub.


The native trees in southern Arizona are often multi-trunk trees, and you want to maintain that natural form. Cutting off one trunk increases pruning maintenance and weakens the tree, making it more susceptible to wind dam­age. Multi-trunk trees provide cooling shade for a greater area on the ground than a single-trunk tree can, which reduces soil-moisture loss to evapo­ration. Multi-trunk trees will also hold more of the leaf drop beneath them; this free, natural mulch will help build and improve the soil.


Look for the bark ridge and branch collar

For branches thicker than 5/8 inch, use a pruning saw and the 3-cut method.

For branches thicker than 5/8 inch, use a pruning saw and the 3-cut method (Fig. 2). This will prevent the bark attached to the bottom of the cut branch from stripping away the bark on the remaining limb when the cut branch falls.

  • On the branch you are removing, place your blade under the branch 3-5 inches away from the branch collar and cut one-quarter of the way up into the branch.
  • Place your saw on the top of the branch, above where you just cut, and finish the cut in a downward motion to remove the branch.
  • Now cut off the stub. To do this, first place the saw blade close to the branch you are keeping. It should be on the far side of the branch’s bark ridge (a raised fur­row of bark where the branches intersect). Cut downward, ending the cut upslope from the outside edge of the branch collar. This way the tree’s tissue will grow around the cut and heal it more easily.


The best mulch for any plant is that plant’s own plant tissue. Don’t throw away your prunings and fallen seed-pods—use them as beneficial moisture-conserving and soil-building mulch! First, make a pile of any small prunings, and use your hand pruners to cut them up into 4-inch pieces so they lie directly on the soil’s surface and don’t act as the tripping hazard, pack-rat nest, or the fire fuel that piles of larger prunings can create. (NOTE: you do NOT need to cut up the seed-pods—they are already the perfect size). Put these fine prunings and fallen seed-pods over the soil, under the canopy of the tree’s branches, leaving clear a 3- to 6-inch ring around the trunk of the tree. That way if the mulch gets really wet after a lot of rain, and stays wet, there won’t be any rot- or fungus-producing moisture against the base of the tree trunk. The pruned branches that are too thick to be cut into smaller pieces with pruning shears can be used for crafts, fences, building, or as kindling in your fireplace. If you don’t want seed pods on your patio or walkways, simply sweep them off these surfaces and onto the unpaved soil where they can beneficially protect and feed the soil..


The tool of choice is primarily the hand pruning shears. Use the ones with scissor action rather than ones that have a flat face the blade presses down on, as this latter type of shears will compress the cut, damaging the edge of the remaining living branch.

For larger cuts, use a pruning saw that allows you to get a nice clean, close cut.

Avoid loppers, even though they are popular. You can’t get as close and clean of a cut as you can get with a saw. Loppers risk a bad pruning stub which can die back and create an entryway for insects and disease.

Make sure all tools are sharp!

Click to download the information from the section above as a PDF file: Pruning Native Sonoran-Desert Multi-Trunk Trees

Funds for this project were provided by the Urban and Community Forestry Financial Assistance Program administered through the State of Arizona Forestry Division – Urban and Community Forestry and the USDA Forest Service.

Timing Important to Kill Mesquite

Ranchers across the US deal with pasture pests, weeds, brush and cactus that steal water and surface area away from grass that feed their cattle.

One pasture pest is a complete menace to ranchers across the Southwestern United States. The mesquite tree, a brushy tree with thorns, covers more than 74 million acres in the southwest.

An intuitive plant, the old timers knew not to plant their garden until the mesquite trees budded out. They said the tree was smart enough not to sprout until winter was over.

The mesquite has been very adaptive to many attempts to control it. Unlike other unwanted trees, simply cutting the mesquite at ground level does not remove the problem. In fact, it increases it because the tree grows back more vigorously with more small branches, resembling a bush, and is often thicker than the original stand. The deep roots of the tree can reach more than 100 feet in an effort to reach water.

Because mesquites not only take up an abundance of surface area and also absorb a tremendous amount of water, ranchers have fought the pesky tree for decades.

Proper herbicide application and timing has helped ranchers control mesquite. However, several circumstances must be right in order for herbicides to kill the roots.

Soil temperature is critical. Temperatures at 12 to 18 inches deep should be at least 75 degrees, preferably 80 degrees. Foliage should be healthy and dark green in order to adequately absorb the herbicide.

Timing is also important as the herbicide is absorbed through the leaves and carried down to the root of the tree with other carbohydrates. The tree carries carbohydrates downward at two points in the year, making it optimal times for spraying. Late May to early June, and then again in early July are typically times that mesquites carry carbohydrates down to the root system.

Previously, herbicides Remedy and Reclaim were used together to kill or control mesquite. Recently, Sendero was introduced by Dow AgroSciences, and initial results are promising for a higher percentage kill.

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