Pruning a larger tree has so many ramifcations, you should grab a book
from the library or review the guidelines published by the International
Society of Arborculture. You need to know a LOT more than "when is the
best time" to do it right, or you will end up permanently harming the
beauty of a tree.
I have underlimbed larger trees to have airiness for shade-gardens
underneath, & for so long as the upper branches are thick & pleasant &
the tree really can look nice with a lower stretch of trunk completely
bared, it's harder to screw up than when pruning upper branches of a
largish tree. Even for that, though, you should at least read a good
chapter in a general gardening manual on pruning techniques, as even the
angle of the cut is important, & not easily described without
Trees such as maples & birches that bleed a great deal if pruned in early
spring are better pruned very late in spring or early summer when sap is
not flowing so dramatically. Second-best time of year is about January
before sap flow is again heavy. Third best time of year is very late in
autumn or early winter when the tree is quiescent, but it will not heal
well until spring, so would be somewhat at risk of disease or insect
reaching the cut which will be raw for a longer time.
Early summer is also best if one wants limbs completely removed flat to
trunk to heal over, as for permanent underlimbing; whereas late winter
trims are "rejuvenation-inducing" & would be more apt to cause new growth.
Late spring/early summer pruning is "structural." The main thing though is
don't do it when sap is flowing in spring, & also the hottest time of
summer is not good because heat already stresses the trees.
But again, UseNet advice can be mediocre at best, or even completely wrong
for your zone, species, or conditions, so do check out a pruning book or
book chapter from the library, paying especially attention to advice on
large rapid-growth maples; advice will be totally different for fruiting
trees or evergreens or for deciduous trees without profuse amounts of
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
Bad timing for maples in general they bleed all down the trunk when
If you must cut them for head room now leave stubs a foot or two long
and then remove them just outside the branch collar in Summer.
That way you don't mar the trunk with sap and when you make the
cleanup cuts in summer the branch collar can make the bark to heal the
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