This live oak has structural defects between the trunk and branches.

This live oak has structural defects between the trunk and branches.  

One of my current gardening obsessions is pruning the trees in my yard.  We planted numerous trees three years ago and several have grown to the extent that they require the lower branches to be removed.  Pruning the trees is an enjoyable process for me because I visualize how I want the tree to grow and I help create the tree’s future shape.  I have found it very helpful to read articles on proper pruning methods.  I encourage anyone interested in learning about how to approach the care and pruning of a tree to download the link at the end of this post.

Many people do not realize that a young tree, particularly a shade tree, will have all of its current branches removed within the course of its life.   Containerized trees purchased at nurseries are typically six to ten feet tall and when planted in the ground their lowest branches are three to four feet off the ground.  Because trees grow out from the tips of their branches, those low branches are never going to grow any higher along the trunk.  The recommended height for the lowest branch on a typical shade tree is 15 to 20 feet off the ground.  Proper and timely pruning of a young, newly planted tree will be necessary for the next 15 to 25 years in order to help the trees grow into a balanced shape and strong structure.

Pruning a tree correctly is very important for the health and structural strength of the tree.  Trees that are not properly maintained are more susceptible to wind damage and can cause damage to people and property.  Improper pruning can also make the tree more susceptible to damaging insects and disease.  For more information on how and when to prune trees, the University of Florida has published a very helpful article that can be found at http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/documents/ch_12_mw04.pdf.