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A guide to pruning and cutting trees

Pruning trees is an essential gardening task done for aesthetic and production reasons. It is done according to the age of the tree and the needs of the gardener. Cutting trees is a harder task, and there is a serious difference between the way in which you treat large trees and smaller trees.

Pruning

Topiary Pruning is performed for productivity and beauty. In topiary, trees are pruned into shape by creating an initial shape and by trimming all new growth that threatens to lose it. Hedges are pruned in this manner to a maximum height and width. Hedge trimmers can be used to keep hedges in shape but in topiary, you need sharp secateurs for precise work. Pruning trees Ornamental trees should be pruned so that they have to conform to their natural shapes. Prune off any dead or weak wood. If one branch crosses another, prune the weaker one. Always prune large branches with a pruning saw and slimmer ones with secateurs. Prune at the correct time of year. Deciduous trees should be pruned in the dormant season when they have shed their leaves. Conifers can be pruned three times a year. Pruning fruit trees Fruit trees must have their centres pruned to let light in. So, trim all inward growing branches, crossing branches as well as weak and dead wood. However, if you chop off the main stem of any tree, it will become bushy by sprouting lots of new branches lower down. Prune branches that are too low and hanging onto the ground, and those that are pointing upwards. Plum trees and damson should be pruned little. For advice about pruning specific types of tree, obtain a good book on pruning which is a skilled and complex art.

Cutting trees

Bow-saws Small fruit trees and saplings can be cut down with a chainsaw. Do not use one of these deadly machines unless you are properly trained, equipped and wearing full protective gear. Bow-saws are specialist tree cutting saws, which can be obtained from a garden centre or tool shop. Axes are less efficient than bow-saws, as they tend to bounce off the tree, and can be dangerous to you, if you drop them onto your foot where they can sever an artery. So, always be properly clad in strong boots. Trimming trees first before cutting is important. Ensure that before you fell the trunk, the branches are off. Be sure to know where the tree will fall, and stand on the opposite side, making sure that it does no harm to a person's property. However, the larger the tree, the more you need a specialist. Do not fell large trees yourself.

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