How to Learn Structural Pruning

Maintenance and Structural Pruning

The 1999 Forest Inventory characterized the existing Audubon Park Urban Forest by condition, and only 11% of the trees were in “good” condition, with 54% in poor condition.  Only 2.1% of the existing ash trees, and 5.3% of the pin oaks, were in good condition.  Many of these trees were poorly formed with no early pruning to shape the trees as street trees.   Once the trees had damage from a natural event, some had further damage from improper pruning, like topping and lion-tailing.  These practices seriously damage the tree’s health and are forbidden in the town bylaws, but are still widely practiced. 

With encouragement from the Sara Gracey, the Kentucky Urban Forester at the time of the 2007 grant, members of the Forest Board adopted a five year policy of structural pruning for newly planted trees in the winter and early spring in order to improve the form of street trees.  Although it was scary to start, this has been successful and rewarding.  Many of the 2007 trees are now too big for pruning from ladders and the ground.  With proper pruning, several trees are 24 foot tall, and one is 36 foot tall, with a good central structure.  Structural pruning drives growth into a strong central trunk, so trees gain height, and it keeps branches coming out as straight laterals (like a ladders up the tree) with a small diameter of attachment.  It can be hard to judge how much to prune in a rapidly growing young tree.

We hope to continue to assist owners in this regard, if they plant appropriate trees recommended by the Forest Board Consultant.  We are glad to teach people to prune as well, and encourage residents to use certified arborists for tree care on a regular schedule once they out grow volunteer management.

There is a pruning presentation about basic methods using our trees as a case study as an slide show through a link to a web album.

Basic Types of Pruning Cuts 
The most effective and safest cuts are reduction cuts.

From An Illustrated Guide to Pruning, 2nd Edition. Gilman

Basic Form for Management of Small Trees

From an Illustrated Guide to Pruning, 2nd Edition.  Gilman
How Drought Damages the Growth Form of Trees

From an Illustrated Guide to Pruning, 2nd Edition. Gilman.
Anne Bobigian,
Feb 14, 2012, 5:22 PM
Anne Bobigian,
Feb 14, 2012, 5:22 PM