Most structural defects that occur in older trees can be prevented by pruning when the tree is young. This practice can extend the life of the tree and help property owners avoid the need for more expensive practices later on. Structural pruning of young, developing trees provides a desirable and stable form at maturity and is one of the best investments that consumers can make in their landscape.
When trees are young, they grow rapidly. Frequent assessment is recommended to determine when pruning is needed to maintain a desirable structure and correct any deficiencies. On many species, pruning is needed every two to three years for the first ten to fifteen years after planting.
Structural pruning focuses on maintaining a single, dominant stem unless multiple stems are specifically desired as is the case in species such as birch or crape myrtle. Branches are pruned so their size remains proportional to the stem diameter at their point of attachment. As trees grow, some branches are removed to ensure adequate spacing between permanent scaffold limbs. The shape of the tree is maintained to provide a natural, open-grown form typical of the species.
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