River birch tree pruning

When is the Best Time to Prune Trees?

After months of looking at branches and limbs stripped down to their bare bones, the rich, bright tones of spring’s bloom are a wonderful welcome to the new season.

Underneath the striking spring scene, you’ll want to make sure your trees have a healthy base.

Knowing when to trim trees keeps them healthy in the long-term while setting them up for a season of robust growth.

Below we’re answering your most common questions about when to trim, or prune, your trees.

When is the best time to prune trees?

Sometime between the changing leaves in fall and flower blooms in spring, your trees need a trim. Anytime between late fall and early spring is best for tree trimming or pruning.

Talk to your local arborist about pruning before spring blooms emerge. Typically a tree’s pruning cycle is 3 to 5 years, but type, size and health play a role in the cycle that will work best for your tree.

Why is late fall through early spring best for tree pruning?

In fall and winter, trees enter a dormant stage, halting their growth. This inactivity along with dropping temperatures creates an ideal setting for pruning. If you prune after new growth has started, you can limit the plant’s bloom potential for the year.

A harder ground in winter gives arborists easy access to the tree, and the bare canopy makes branches easier to see and handle.

Check out our dormant pruning infographic for quick facts about pruning trees in fall and winter.

What are the benefits of pruning in late fall or winter?

Pruning trees in the dormant season promotes tree’s current health and sustains future tree growth.

And even better, dormant pruning saves time and money by helping with disease management.

Watch this video to see the benefits of pruning trees in the dormant season first-hand.

Best Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs

Q. When is the best time of year to prune my trees and shrubs?

A. Pruning requirements of trees and shrubs will not only vary according to species, it will also depend on the purpose of pruning. If pruning is necessary because branches are dead and the tree or shrub causes a safety hazard, pruning can be performed at any time. However, the overall health of the plant should always be taken into consideration before addressing pruning issues. It is important to know that detrimental diseases can easily be spread if trees and shrubs are pruned at the wrong time of the year. For example, oak trees (Quercus spp.) should only be pruned in the winter months when the trees are dormant to prevent the spread of a common fungal disease called oak wilt.

As a general rule, a light summer pruning can be performed on most deciduous trees and shrubs. Heavier pruning should be performed when the tree is dormant, preferably in late winter before active growth begins. Trees such as maple (Acer) trees bleed sap heavily and should be pruned in winter while the trees are dormant. Spring flowering shrubs such as lilac and forsythia bloom on the previous season’s growth and should be pruned within two weeks after flowering. Pruning at any other time will reduce or eliminate the flower display.

Most conifers require minimal pruning that will also vary with species. Needled evergreens such as spruce (Picea) and fir (Abies) are best pruned in late winter before growth begins. Arborvitae (Thuja) and yew (Taxus) can be pruned during spring and early summer. Pruning of any kind can encourage new growth; therefore, pruning should not be performed late in the season to avoid the risk of cold temperatures damaging tender new growth.

When Is The Best Time To Prune Your Trees?

When it comes to tree pruning, no two trees are the same; one tree’s perfect prune can be completely wrong for another. Even when you have researched the type of tree you are working with and know how you’d like to prune there is still one factor that can make or break a tree pruning: timing.

The best time to prune your trees depends on the reason you want do the tree pruning.

Every tree has different pruning requirements; some trees need pruning to help foster new growth, other trees need pruning to reduce growth and improve shape, whilst other tree pruning is for maintaining and improving tree health or ensuring the safety of trees.

When is the best time to perform tree pruning?

If you want to prune to stimulate new growth late winter and very early spring tree pruning is always recommended. The more the tree is pruned back in the winter months the more vigorously it will flourish in spring time.

Even if a tree is newly planted in the winter months don’t be afraid to prune straight away as this is the best time to achieve the tree height and shape you desire (formative pruning).

Another benefit of tree pruning in winter for deciduous trees, is that you have easier access to trees, less sap bleeding, and a clearer view of branch structure before the spring foliage starts to grow.

When is the best time to perform tree pruning to limit growth?

If you need to limit the growth of an out of control tree, then you will need to perform tree pruning during the summer months. So you don’t stress the tree, be sure to only prune back dead, diseased, damaged or rubbing branches and avoid pruning any major scaffold branches as over-pruning in summer can also leave your tree’s foliage susceptible to sunburn damage.

New growth after summer pruning will be considerably less vigorous than the growth that comes after winter pruning. Minimal pruning is required in winter if summer tree pruning has already been done.

When is the best time to perform tree pruning to maximise flowering?

Tree pruning to maximise flowering on an ornamental tree is best carried out after the tree’s flowers have faded. The ideal time to prune flowering trees is after the petals have started to drop and before new shoot growth starts.

Pruning to shape a flowering or ornamental tree in its first few years will improve its flowering ability and most flowering/ornamental trees do not require a great deal of pruning after this initial shaping period. Weeping trees in particular benefit from initial tree pruning and you should always aim to create an umbrella shape when pruning these varieties.

When is the best time to prune to repair damage

Trees can be damaged in a number of ways. Collisions, lightening strikes, storms, infestation and previous poor pruning work can cause obvious signs of tree damage. But trees can also be damaged in less obvious ways by drought, infection, chemical poisoning or soil deficiencies.

If you suspect your tree is damaged or unhealthy it is best to have an expert prune back the damaged area of a tree a soon as you notice it. Wounded trees that are left untreated become at risk of infection and dying, which could end up costing a lot to remove in the long run.

When is the best time to perform tree pruning to improve safety?

Trees that have branches that may fall, are interfering with power lines or buildings, are very low lying, or appear leaning or dead all pose risks to both the people and the property around them.

Whatever you do don’t attempt hazardous tree pruning on your own!

Most people do not have the equipment or skills necessary to prune hazardous trees safely or effectively.

Even if you feel you are capable of safely pruning your trees, if you attempt to prune a hazardous tree and your incorrect pruning later causes injury or losses to someone else you can expect to have any insurance claims refused and may even be liable for the damages.

If you suspect that a tree or parts of a tree might be structurally unsound it is best to arrange for professional tree advice and leave the tree pruning or tree removal to the experts.

Why consult a tree pruning expert?

Before you embark on any tree pruning it’s worthwhile checking if your plans will be affected by any legal restrictions.

There are many rules surrounding tree pruning, depending on the type of tree, tree location and the extent of the work you would like to do. Sometimes you need to lodge a formal application to your local council before you prune a tree, especially if it is situated on council land or area that has a protection order covering it.

The team at River City Trees will help to ensure that all of your tree pruning is safe, and compliant with local council regulations.

The birch is a tree that can exceed 20 m in height and its normal diameter reaches 50 cm or more. It is a leafy deciduous that sprouts in March (northern hemisphere), blooms in the month of April, also a time of pollination. It is a plant native to Central and North Asia, widespread in Europe, as well as in the northern United States and Canada. In South America it is on a smaller scale. It is grown as an ornamental species for parks and gardens. In this article we will see how to carry out the pruning of a birch trees, we will explain how and when to carry out this task and with what tools. We will also take the time to talk a little about the basic care you need to perform in your birch tree.

Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

Table of Contents

1. How to car your birch trees

Although the central theme of this article is clear that how to prune a birch, we can not fail to notice that pruning is nothing other than a care or maintenance technique. Therefore, we will begin by briefly seeing the most important care you should take to this tree.

  • Soil: Requires fertile soils and acidity (<6.5). It depends on birch species, the characteristics may change. There are varieties that hold well the semi-wetlands and very acidic pH (Betula pubescens).
  • Irrigation: We usually associate the birch with river banks. The reason is that the superficial roots that it possesses have to have a constant humidity. It is an essential factor for the correct development of the tree. Therefore, if the birch is in a garden, it will require frequent watering in areas of low rainfall.

Birch trees

  • Sun: Although it is a tree with great cold weather, it needs moderate sun exposure. Too bleak areas are not the ideal place for optimal growth.

  • Sowing: It should be run preferably between April and May, months in which there is no risk of being affected by low temperatures.
  • Fertilizer: Nothing better as a fertilizer than using wood chips or leaves and bark.
  • Pests and diseases: You should keep in mind that the birch tree may have weaknesses before some pests, so it is recommended that you use an insecticide that allows you to protect it, preferably apply it in the tree’s bark or in the soil where it is found.
  • Pruning: this point could not be missing in the list, in what follows we will develop it in depth.

2. What tools to use for cutting back Birch tree

There are several tools available for pruning a birch tree, you will have to choose between one or the other depending on several factors, the most important is the age (height) of the birch. Among the tools you can use are the following:

  • Hand Pruning Shears: Stems up to half inch in diameter can be pruned with hand shears.
  • Lopping Shears: It is suitable to use on stems between half inch and 2 inches in diameter.
  • Saws: A number of pruning saws are available. These saws come with either curved or straight blades and of variable lengths and points. Curved blades that cut on the draw stroke are easy to use.
  • Chainsaw: for the thickest branches the most recommended is the use of these saws with motor, in adult birches you will surely need them.
  • Ladder, crane, scaffolding: since once adults these trees become very tall, you will need some strength that allows you to rise to perform pruning in height. Against this we always recommend that whoever is going to perform pruning tasks at height be a professional in the field.
  • Elements of personal safety: any pruning task entails risks, and if it is also carried out at height the risks increase. Keep all the protection elements available (helmet, harness, gloves, glasses, etc.). And as we noted in the previous point, try not to take risks and hire a pruning professional for risky tasks like this.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all the tools before pruning your birch. This will help prevent disease transmission, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Necessary care for pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

3. Why prune any birch tree

Regardless of which birch varidead is concerned there are some reasons why pruning is necessary. We can summarize these reasons in the following:

  • Every dead or sick element in the birches interferes with its nominal growth, occupying space and resources. Therefore proper pruning encourages growth.
  • It is possible to avoid incidents with falling branches. In large plants such as birches, seeing a strong medium can cause the detachment and fall of branches.
  • As with any plant, pruning is often the best treatment against diseases and pests. On the other hand it also exposes some parts of the tree to sunlight, which helps minimize the incidence of the disease.
  • Improves the aesthetics of the tree. In birches located in gardens, pruning will always be necessary to improve the aesthetic appearance of the plant.
  • There is no doubt that the shade that a birch plant can give is excellent, a shadow that you cannot take advantage of if its surroundings are full of low branches. Eliminating these low branches will improve the use of your shadow.

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

  • River birch and Silver birch
  • Iris plant
  • Mahonia
  • New Zealand Flax
  • Escallonia hedge

4. When to prune Birch trees

Keep in mind that in the winter months, the birch can lose sap from pruning wounds, so it is preferable to delay it until after buds sprout. Thus, the recommended time for birch pruning is between May and August (North Hemisphere).

If it is a pruning where only totally dead material is trimmed, you do not have the problem of losing sap, therefore you can carry out the trimming of dry branches at any time of the year. Something similar happens with diseased branches since you should not wait for an adequate time to cut them, but it is preferable to prune them just the detected ones to avoid a greater spread of the pest or disease.

5. Pruning Birch trees – How to prune

In birch tree there is five types of pruning that can be carried out. The first is that which needs to be carried out from the plantation and during the first years in search of a correct formation of the structure, the other pruning will be necessary during adulthood.

  • Training.
  • Thinning.
  • Crown reduction.
  • Rising crown.
  • Cleaning crown.

We will develop below how these five types of pruning should be carried out.

5.1 Training

As we said, the formation pruning the birch trees are necessary from the plantation, therefore we can conclude that the formation and planting prunings come hand in hand. So let’s talk a little about the planting of these birches.

The recommended age for planting is known as two sap (the first in nursery and the second already transplanted). At that age the seedling will be 70 to 100 cm high and a good radical system.

The ideal planting season is between November and March (northern hemisphere). The plant must be at a vegetative rest, without leaves. At that time it is convenient to carry out a conditioning by pruning of formation and elimination of branches, mainly, and cutting of the radical system.

Pruning birch formation, made in the first three years after planting, are indispensable. What should be done is to avoid double guidance, favoring the most vertical and best made so that the tree grows straight from the beginning. It is also necessary to eliminate the thickest branches seeking a balance in the arrangement of the branches in the plant.

5.2 Cronwn Thinning

This pruning that we titled as de thinning is the one we carry out when the crown of birch tree is very dense. Very dense crowns have the problem that they do not let in the amount of light necessary for proper development.

When this happens I recommend that you take some time to analyze the birch crown, and define which branches you can eliminate to lower this density. Try to cut the weakest branches allowing stronger branches to sunbathe and develop even better. Try never to prune more than 20 percent of birch tree branches.

5.3 Crown reduction

In this pruning, what is sought is to reduce the height of an adult birch, cutting large branches from the top. It is not a very recommended pruning since it impacts negatively on the health of the plant.

Although it is not a recommended pruning, in plants such as birch tree that can reach great heights may become necessary. When are they necessary? On multiple occasions such as:

  • Birches located on public roads that disturb the power line.
  • When a storm has spoiled the plant leaving a large number of upper branches with danger of falling.

In case of carrying out a pruning like this, do not forget to place healing paste in the pruning cuts, since you will surely have cut branches of significant thickness.

5.4 Rising crown

When we talked about the reasons why pruning should be carried out we said that it is needed to improve the use of the birch shade. With this pruning known as the rising crown, what we will do will be to eliminate all the annoying lower branches, this will not only benefit the best use of the shadow, but also redirect the energy towards the upper branches, producing an rising crown.

Birch tree height

5.5 Cleaning crown

This is the pruning of the birch tree that is carried out to eliminate diseased and damaged branches and branches that have developed in an unwanted direction. By removing these leftover branches, it will expose the remaining branches to more air and sunlight and improve the structure and definition of the plant.

As I always say, before you start trimming, take some time to analyze the plant carefully, then you should eliminate the following:

• Cut any branch that is growing in a direction that does not go hand in hand with the development you want to give your birch.

• Cutting completely dry branches, it will help the aesthetics of the plant.

• If you find branches attacked by a pest or disease, it is time to cut it.

Once the pruning is finished, you should study what to do with the waste. If you have not cut diseased branches or attacked by pests, you can use them in your garden (for example, compost), otherwise, try to remove those wastes from the garden to avoid spreading diseases or pests to other plants.

6. Pruning birch trees height video

In this website we like to finish the articles with an explanatory video, this always helps to understand the concepts in a more graphic way. In this case, we will use this section to provide information on the pruning of a high-height birch tree. As you can see the pruning of a tree of these characteristics requires knowledge and tools that not everyone has, and since it is a risky task from here we recommend that you hire a professional for pruning like this.

We have taken this video from the YouTube fourwalk channel.

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

  • Spirea bush
  • Photinia red robin
  • Rosemary
  • Camellias
  • Pampas grass

So here we are, I hope that everything was clear about how and when to prune birch tree, and do not have any doubt at the moment that you should take your scissors and trim.

Trimming a hugh tripple Birch tree

In general, most deciduous trees should be pruned in late fall to winter, when you can see the overall branch structure better and most insects and disease causing organisms are not active. Some trees, such as birch, have free-flowing sap that “bleeds” after late winter or early spring pruning. Although this bleeding does little harm, it may still be a source of concern. To prevent bleeding, you can prune a birch after their leaves are fully expanded in late spring or early summer. Never remove more than one-fourth of the live foliage.

Regarding shortening your tree, topping is one method to shorten it. Topping a tree is a severe type of pruning, which consists of cutting the top of a tree in a “flat-top” or “snowball-cone” shape. The effects of topping will be far more negative. Numerous new shoots will develop rapidly, producing many fast-growing, succulent sprouts. The tree will appear bushy, and the new shoots will generally form more structurally weak junctures with the main branch of the limb. Branches will tend to angle up very closely to the tree trunk, producing weak crotches. Topping trees vastly reduces the number of leaves they have, thereby limiting the trees’ ability to produce food energy through photosynthesis. It can result in their early death. In addition, topping produces large pruning cuts that are slower to heal and more vulnerable to decay.

Crown Reduction, another method of shortening a tree, removes larger branches at the top of the tree to reduce its height. When done properly, crown reduction pruning is different from topping because branches are removed immediately above lateral branches, leaving no stubs. Crown reduction is not a desirable pruning practice and should be done only when absolutely necessary.

How to Prune River Birch Trees

The river birch is a medium-sized deciduous tree extending from New England, west to Kansas. Used as a forest buffer and to assist in erosion control along stream banks, the river birch also provides food for many bird species, including grouse and white-tailed dear. River birch bark is light brown to buff in color and thin like paper. The leaves are double serrated and wedge-shaped with sharp points. The river birch is found growing along swamps and prefers fertile and moist soils with a pH between 4.0 and 6.5. It requires full sun and is very intolerant of shade.

Prune the river birch in the summer months after sap production has ended. River birch trees are “bleeders” and cannot be cut or pruned while the tree is producing sap. Pruning in summer will produce hardy growth the following season.

Remove the top stems of the birch using pruning shears. Maintain one strong shoot leader to encourage the birch to grow tall and straight. Cut back all side or lateral branches that are twisted and weak.

Remove all damaged or diseased stems and branches by cutting off the entire branch. Remove all insect-infected branches to avoid infecting the tree.

Prune young river birch trees to one main branch, keeping two or three saplings on either side. Remove all sucker shoots, which stem from the base of the tree to free up available nutrients for the main sapling branch.

Periodically check your tree to ensure it’s strong and healthy. River birch trees are prone to aphid infestation in the early spring, so if you suspect an infestation, contact your local county extension office.

Cutting Back Birch Trees: How And When To Prune Birch Trees

Birch trees are highly desirable landscape trees because of their beautiful bark and graceful foliage. Unfortunately, they aren’t known for their long lifespan. You can improve their chances by pruning birch trees properly, and taking advantage of the best time to prune birch trees.

Reasons for Cutting Back Birch Trees

There are several reasons for cutting back birch trees:

  • Remove dead, diseased and injured branches for the health of the tree.
  • Branches that rub together offer entry points for insects and disease, so remove one of them.
  • Branches that grow nearly straight up have weak attachments to the trunk. Take them down while they are small to prevent them from breaking off later on.
  • Remove a branch that is too close to another branch. This is best done when the tree is young.
  • Remove branches that are too close to the ground to make landscaping easier and allow comfortable use of the shade.
  • You can remove any branch that detracts from the overall appearance of the tree.

When to Prune Birch Trees

Most landscapers prune trees just before they break dormancy in late winter or early spring, but this timing doesn’t work for birch trees. They bleed a heavy flow of sap if pruned when awakening from their winter rest, so the best time to prune birch trees is late summer or early autumn.

When you prune at the proper time, you not only avoid sap flows, but you also avoid the egg laying season for most insects that infest pruning wounds. These insects cause unsightly damage, and they can spread serious diseases. Birch tree borers are tree killers, and you should reduce the risk of attack by cutting after their early summer flying season whenever possible.

How to Prune a Birch Tree

There are several steps in pruning a birch tree. Take care of the easy stuff first by removing side shoots and suckers as necessary. Next, decide which branches to remove. Be as conservative as possible. Removing more than twenty-five percent of the canopy of a tree at one time weakens it and may be fatal. Never top a tree.

Remove branches less than two inches in diameter as close as possible to the collar, or thickened area where the branch attaches to the trunk. Use one quick cut with long-handled pruners to remove the branch, and then clean the pruning tool with a ten percent bleach solution or a household disinfectant before moving to another branch.

Larger branches are taken down with three cuts. Here’s the procedure:

  • The Undercut – From the trunk of the tree, measure 18 inches out along the branch. At the 18-inch mark, make a cut one-third to one-half of the way through the branch beginning at the underside and working in an upward direction. This cut prevents the falling branch from stripping bark and wood from the tree as it falls.
  • The Main Cut – Measure an inch or two out from the undercut and cut the branch from the top downward. Cut all the way through as smoothly as possible.
  • Tidying Up – The 18- to 20-inch stub that remains is an unnecessary eyesore, and can cause disease if it dies back. It will not regrow, so cut it off flush with the collar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *