Step-by-step on how to prune trees successfully


Trees are a very important part of life, and so is maintaining them properly. Pruning is important in order to correct the tree’s architecture and make the tree structurally sound, which in return will help the tree have a long and functional life — this is especially true of fruit trees. To help better understand how to prune a tree, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has created a new video series that explains the principles of pruning and gives step-by-step instructions on how to prune, along with the different situations that will be encountered when pruning.

“When we plant a tree, we envision it will have a long and useful life. Unfortunately, structural flaws, like weak or overcrowded branches, multiple leaders and more can result in partial or complete tree failure,” said Jeff Iles, professor and chair in horticulture at Iowa State. “Pruning trees, especially when they are young, will promote overall tree health and a strong trunk, and help create a branch framework/network that is both resilient and beautiful.”

The first video in the series, Principles of Pruning – When & Why to Prune, Iles gives us the basics of pruning a tree. It is important to get into a routine of pruning trees once a year. Iles says it is easier to prune a young tree during the dormant season for easier access to branches. Don’t forget to have the correct gear before you get started!  

The second video in the series, Principles of Pruning – Making a Good Cut, Iles shows you how to prune a tree the correct way to without injuring tissue which might result in decay to form in the tree. 

In the third and final video of the series, Principles of Pruning – Included Bark, Iles demonstrates the best way to take care of included bark. 

For more information on pruning, review ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer” (SUL 0005). For more general horticulture and plant health news, visit the ISU Extension and Outreach Horticulture and Home Pest News site.

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