Pruning young trees
Part 2 of Pruning Modern Landscape Plants
By Todd Layt
Understanding how to correctly prune trees is a lot more complicated than pruning the smaller plants as shown in part one of this article. Get pruning a small plant wrong, and the plant can be harmed. Get pruning a tree wrong; life and property can be devastated. That’s why part two of this article comes with an important disclaimer. This is more about pruning trees when they are small, and not large. That should be done by an expert, but even small trees need to be pruned correctly, otherwise they grow up to be dangerous big trees. If you are in any way unsure, seek professional advice.
Big trees can be made to look like shrubs or dense smaller trees by special pruning techniques. Sometimes it pays to consider coppicing and pollarding on some trees and even a few shrubs. If the plant is cut back close to the ground it is called coppicing. If that process takes place further up the trunk, then it’s called pollarding. For some tired old trees this can breathe life back into them. It can also make an average looking healthy tree look amazing.
The success rate of this type of operation depends on tree type. Some die easily, and others have high success rates. Coppicing can allow certain large or medium trees to be used in smaller gardens and landscapes. The fresh new foliage produced can be super clean and vibrant. This technique is regularly used for producing cut foliage. Pollarding needs to be done with far more care, as it can produce dangerous trees if they are let grow out in the future. Eucalyptus types such as pulverulenta, perriniana, cinerea, and cladoclayx have responded well to coppicing, providing beautiful green, silver grey to in the case of Vintage Red, even vivid red foliage.
The best time to coppice a tree is mid to late Spring, and in some regions summer. It’s best to make sure the tree is healthy and fertilised before attempting this. Most Australian native shrubs such as Calistemon do not like coppicing, but real research needs to be done on different species. I have had some success coppicing some Callistemon species, but lots of failures with others. Some Grevillea types for example also respond to pollarding. It is best to regularly prune these types of native shrubs and trees, although a hard prune via coppicing is sometimes the only option other than replanting. In this case what have you got to lose?
It’s important in pruning young trees to…read more