pruning Bradfords

thanks in advance... I live in central NC and have 3 Bradfords that I'd like to prune to protect the house and the trees too. One is about 14" trunk diameter (15 years) and 25' tall.... the other 2 are 11" trunk diameter (11 years) and 20' tall. When can I cut them, where to make the cuts, etc. I'd like to reduce the general sizes down to about half there current size. This would mean dozens of cuts of course, but I'd like to improve the trees, even though for a couple of years they might look funny. I've seen people around here really cut them back far, but I need some advice before.... thanks! Sol
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Generally trees that bloom in early spring are pruned after they finish blooming--the Bradford pear fits into this category. After ten to fifteen years, large branches on a Bradford pear begin to split and fall if the tree has been left unpruned.
With careful observation, you can decide which limbs should stay and which should go. First to go are the thin vertical limbs in the center of the tree. They provide few blooms and impede air circulation through the tree. Next out are the major limbs that are spaced too closely together along the main trunk. When choosing between two limbs, keep the one that grows more horizontally. Remove the large limbs before green leaves appear and they become even harder to manage.
You can seriously harm the tree if a big limb is cut carelessly. If only one cut is made next to the trunk, the limb will sag before the cut is complete and strip bark off for a distance down the trunk. It is best to cut the limb once from below and then from above, a couple of feet from the trunk, allowing most of the limb to fall away. The stub that is left can be removed with a single cut just outside the branch collar on the trunk.
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Thanks for the tips... one question, if I want to reduce the overall height and/or diameter of the entire tree say from 25'x25' down to 12'x12' can this be done? I can get rid of the verticals and the ones close to the trunk. But I still I'd like a smaller tree. With apple trees over the years I had really taken 25 footers and butched them down to 12' and got a smaller healthier tree, but I don't know if Bradfords could withstand this type of pruning. Ideas? thanks again!

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I don't see any problem in doing that. To keep the spring bloom, it is still best to prune after they bloom. However, to avoid the heavy branches with leaves, it is best to do it before they leave out. So I would cut the big pieces in winter or very early spring when it is still dormant and the smaller pieces after they bloom. After severe pruning they are in a weakened condition so water if you have drought, and spray if you have an infestation. Try to avoid additional stress the first summer.
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Here is a pruning site. Your best bet would the PRUNING GUIDE by SHIGO www.shigoandtrees.com
Other than that
http://www.treedictionary.com/DICT2003/tree_pruning/index.html
Bradford pairs are a difficult tree to prune. Mostly codominant leaders with included bark.
I just cabled one for a close friend who really liked the tree. We should mulch it sometime to help essential elements become available for the tree. Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Consulting Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.

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