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Benefits of Pruning Your Ornamental Trees in the Summer

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Did you know that pruning your ornamental trees and shrubs in the South Shore area of Massachusetts during the summer can be beneficial? Ornamental trees are usually smaller than other types of trees and are grown for their foliage, flowers, or fruit.

This article will examine some of the primary benefits of summer pruning for ornamental and fruit trees, including improving shape, stimulating fruit production, and removing dead branches. Professional tree pruning from a team like ours at Top Notch Tree can do the job properly to avoid common mistakes.

Key Takeaways

  • Summer pruning should focus on limiting growth.
  • Summer is a perfect time to conduct disease control and remove dead limbs at risk of falling.
  • You will want to be careful when pruning in the summer to avoid causing damage to the tree at the height of its growing season or promoting growth going into the winter.

The Reasons for Summer Pruning

Though it is not the most popular season for pruning, summer trimming is perfectly okay when done correctly. Pruning during the summer has different objectives and aims from the more common pruning efforts during the dormant season.

WARNING: Always consult a tree care professional before pruning in the summer, as poor timing or technique could injure trees or spread diseases.

Improving Tree’s Shape

By the summer, you’ll have a proper idea of the shape and size of your ornamental tree in full bloom. With the whole picture visible, you can plan your pruning efforts and where to prune to give the tree the desired shape. Or, if the tree suffered damage from poor or over-pruning in the past, you can restore its natural shape.

This can be trickier than it seems, so you’ll want to consult a tree care professional about how your pruning will affect the tree’s shape and size in subsequent seasons.

The Top Notch Tree crew works to prune an ornamental tree during the summer.

The branches of this tree are in need of trimming, and summer is a perfect time to remove them to increase tree safety and improve its health.

Removing Dead or Diseased Branches

There’s never a wrong time to remove a dead or diseased branch from a tree, as they both pose threats.

Dead branches are weak and could snap off at any time. The best-case scenario for a fallen branch is some cleanup to remove the debris. In the worst case, it may lead to an injury or damage to your house. Removing dead branches will give you better protection from tree damage during a summer storm.

A professional should remove diseased branches as soon as possible, as they can carry infection throughout the tree. Many typically ornamental trees are susceptible to diseases that threaten not just their life but the lives of the other trees around them.

For instance, crabapple trees are popular ornamentals that provide beauty to your landscape. However, they are also susceptible to fire blight, and treatment often revolves around targeted pruning and destruction of infected material.

Opening Up the Tree’s Crown

One of the best summer pruning benefits for ornamental trees is seeing your tree in full bloom. You can determine if part of the canopy restricts airflow and limits sunlight to parts of the tree. Proper airflow and light penetration are crucial for trees to fight off disease.

Many diseases that attack trees enjoy the humid and wet environment a clustered crown can provide. Aim to trim only 20 to 25 percent of the crown at a time, as removing too much will harm the tree.

Opening up the crown and letting in more light will produce more vibrant fruit by allowing more direct sunlight.

Controlling Summer Growth

Summer can be a time of rapid growth for a tree, though sometimes that growth is too fast. You might notice your ornamental trees growing too large or into places they shouldn’t be. In these situations, summer pruning can help improve a tree’s aesthetics and promote the growth of your tree in the way you want it.

A tree with watersprouts in Plymouth County.

Removing Emerging Watersprouts

Watersprouts on fruit trees are typically a response to trauma. These growths are not good for a tree, especially when they crowd the canopy, and you will want to trim them as soon as possible.

Watersprouts are often a sign of additional problems with your tree. Our team can help fix the underlying issues with your trees to avoid future watersprouts.

A student test from the University of Massachusetts Extension found a partial link between removing watersprouts and lowering the pest population for pear trees.

Raising Your Tree Canopy

Raising the tree canopy is another pruning goal you can complete in the summer. Raising the canopy allows you to make more room for anyone walking under the tree, as well as improving the aesthetics of the tree.

This technique will protect you and your house from detached limbs and branches during a storm.

Avoiding Excessive Sap Production

A popular ornamental tree in New England is the dogwood, which brings plenty of beauty to one’s landscape. Known to arborists as “bleeders,” these trees can ooze excess sap when pruned in the spring.

While excessive sap production is not an issue of tree health, it can lead to unappealing aesthetics and may drop sap on someone passing by under the tree. Trimming in summer will limit sap oozing.

Healthy apple (or pear) tree that will benefit from summer pruning.

Encouraging Fruit Production

Judicious trimming of your fruit trees during the summer can help thin out the canopy and allow more light to penetrate into the interior of the tree. These alleys of light will allow lower branches to receive more sunlight and stimulate fruit growth in the parts of the tree you can more easily access.

Trimming an apple or pear tree’s lateral branches can induce new fruit buds for a better yield in the next year. You may want to let a professional handle this, as improper pruning of your fruit tree could damage it and harm fruit production in the future.

Dangers of Summer Pruning to Watch Out For

When you prune properly in the summer, your trees shouldn’t be in danger. However, you must always be careful to avoid damaging the tree or encouraging excess growth.

PRO TIP: You should speak with a tree care specialist before doing summer pruning. We recommend allowing a professional to handle the job to avoid any potential hazards that come with pruning in the summer.

Timing is critical with summer pruning. Pruning at the wrong time can encourage growth too close to winter. The cold winters we see in Massachusetts every year can damage new growth and lead to unhealthy trees.

Summer is also a season of high transmission for tree diseases such as fire blight, apple scab, and powdery mildew. Leaving open wounds on your trees can prove risky, as it may invite insects carrying the disease to spread it.

If there is concern about an outbreak of a disease in your trees, check with a tree professional about the best methods for pruning your ornamental trees. Sometimes, it may be advisable to wait until the tree is dormant.

Sunscald is also a concern if you damage the bark or leave the tree exposed to the elements during periods of extreme heat. While there aren’t many extremely hot days in the South Shore area of Massachusetts, it is still a concern for trees on days of uncommon excess heat.

Some ornamental trees are best pruned in spring. Learn which ornamental trees benefit most from spring pruning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s look at some of the most frequent questions regarding the summer pruning of ornamental trees.

Is it safe to prune my trees in the summer?

Yes, you can prune your trees during the summer, as long as you follow proper procedures. Always consult a tree care specialist who can advise you on the appropriate time to prune your trees and how to properly prune them without increasing your risk of spreading disease.

What are some popular South Shore ornamentals that need summer pruning?

We are lucky to have access to numerous beautiful ornamentals in Massachusetts. Some popular species you may consider pruning in the summer include crabapples, serviceberries, and Japanese snowbells.

How often should I prune my ornamental fruit trees?

We recommend pruning your fruit trees once a year, as this encourages fruit production in the next growing season. Consistent pruning also allows you to have easier access to the fruit.

Should I hire an arborist to handle pruning for me?

Many people opt to prune trees themselves and have acceptable results. However, if you want to ensure clean cuts and proper pruning techniques, you should contact an expert. Our team at Top Notch Tree will treat your trees as though they were our own. You can trust us with your tree; we will leave your yard looking more beautiful than we found it.

Top Notch Tree Can Help With Your Summer Pruning Jobs

Trimming in August may be unconventional, but summer pruning benefits for your ornamental trees make it worthwhile. Ornamental trees require a delicate touch and consistent vigilance to catch any problems before they worsen.

When you need work done on your trees, you can trust our team at Top Notch Tree. We’ve been around the area for over 20 years and have seen just about everything there is to see with South Shore trees. Call us at 781-871-8008 or request an estimate online to learn more about how we can assist with your summer pruning efforts.

Jeff Van Meter

Jeff has been in the green industry since working at his father’s landscaping industry as a kid. Jeff uses his many years of experience to guide his customers and to help them find the best solutions for their tree and landscape needs. More about Jeff >>>

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