Minimizing Bleeding When Pruning Your Trees

Posted on: 24 December 2015

Whenever you cut deep enough into a tree, some sap is going to leak out. A little bit of sap leakage is not going to cause any major problems. However, when you lop off a whole limb or a lot of branches at once, as you often do when pruning a tree, the sap loss, or "bleeding" as it is often called, can weaken the tree. After all, that sap contains the water and nutrients that your tree's tissues need to survive.

In order to keep your trees healthy and happy, it's essential to keep bleeding to a minimum when it comes time to prune. Here are four ways to do that.

Don't cut through the branch collar.

This is a common mistake that many homeowners make – they try to cut off the branch as close to the trunk as possible. While this may make for a neat appearance, it is not the healthiest choice for your tree, since the portion of the branch where it joins the trunk, known as the branch collar, is rich in vascular tissue and will bleed more. Instead of cutting flush with the trunk, leave a "stub" of about 6 to 8 inches. Your tree will bleed a lot less from this cut further down the branch.

Sharpen your shears.

If your shears have been used a few times, you'd best have them sharpened before your next pruning session. When shears are dull, they rip at the tree's wood instead of making clean cuts. This tugging and the jagged cuts left by dull shears can lead to more bleeding than is necessary. Many garden stores offer walk-in sharpening services. The few dollars it costs to have your shears sharpened each year will help you avoid having to replace trees in the long run.

Choose branches to prune with discretion.

If you're aiming for a certain shape when pruning, then you will probably have to cut into some fresher, newer branches as well as some older, nearly dead ones. Make sure you're using discretion when choosing which branches to prune, however. Always select an older, browner branch over a young green one if you have the choice (the older one will bleed less), and select thinner branches over thicker ones.

Prune in the early spring.

If you prune too early in the winter, the tree's sap will still be draining out of the smaller branches and back into the trunk as the tree prepares for dormancy. If you wait until it's almost spring, this process will be complete. There will be a lot less sap in the branches, so your tree will bleed less from each cut.

For more information on proper tree care, contact a company like Corner Landscaping & Tree Service or a similar service.