Novice gardeners may have heard that trees and shrubs require regular pruning, but not be entirely sure exactly what this entails. While it is easy enough to find information on how to prune, this often includes unfamiliar terms like “heading” or “thinning” which may be confusing. I came across this article by Noelle Johnson who is a certified arborist and so the ideal person to explain what these terms mean. This comes from the Houzz website.
When it’s time to prune your favorite shrub or tree — deciduous trees should be pruned in winter, while evergreen trees are best pruned after flowering — it’s important to do so properly so you can ensure a healthy, attractive plant. And if you’ve looked into pruning, you’ve probably heard terms like “crown raising,” “heading” or “thinning,” among others, being used to describe the type of pruning method needed. But what do these words all mean?
As a certified arborist, I talk to clients about their trees’ and shrubs’ pruning needs, which includes explaining what the above-mentioned words mean. So, I’m here to break down the definitions of a few of the most common and essential pruning terms so you can confidently move forward in caring for your plants’ pruning needs, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.
Before you head outdoors and start cutting away at the shrubs and trees in your garden, or consider forgoing pruning, let’s take a few moments to understand why pruning is important.
1. Encourages strong branching and removes weak or crossing branches.
2. Eliminates dead or diseased wood.
3. Stimulates new, attractive growth.
4. Helps to improve resistance to windy conditions.
5. Promotes good air circulation, which decreases the incidence of fungal disease.
In short, proper pruning practices are an important part of maintaining woody plants like trees and shrubs.
Pruning Terms to Know
Let’s get started with some of the most common terms used when discussing pruning trees and shrubs.
Crown. The upper part of the tree, made up of the branches, stems and leaves — also referred to as the “canopy.”
Crown cleaning. Pruning away dead or diseased branches and stems. This also includes the removal of any “stubs,” which are the dead base of a branch that wasn’t pruned back to the trunk.