Investing in a tree adds shade to your yard, value to your home and is a gift to your city. The Cool Urban Space Project by the City of Phoenix, University of Arizona and Arizona State University showed that a goal of 25 percent canopy could reduce near-ground temperatures in the city by 4.3 degrees. Trees also reduce air pollution, storm runoff and residential energy costs.

Despite their value, people do not plant many trees as part of their desert landscapes. Trees are an investment that some people fear may be difficult to maintain. They see trees in their neighborhood that look thin and hacked, awkward and vulnerable. Scottsdale’s Conservation Specialist Bill Casenhiser is responsible for the beautiful trees in the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden. One of his secrets is proper pruning. Here are 10 tips for keeping your drought-tolerant tree healthy and lovely for many years, whether you prune them yourself or have a landscaper trim them for you.

1. Do not prune a young tree to look like a mature tree. Shape a young tree for about four years. Take the pruning slowly, gradually pruning it a little bit at a time over 4 years to get it to look the way you want. Remove weak branches that are dangling and any branch rubbing or crossing another.

2. Temporarily leave lower branches on a young tree. Those little branches are feeding lower sections of the tree through photosynthesis. These branches are what give a mature tree heft on the bottom that tapers towards the top.

3. Only prune a mature tree when you must. Look for dead or diseased branches that need to be cut out and branches that are rubbing or crossing. This is called a “crown cleaning” or thinning. Sometimes you need to cut a branch that’s rubbing against the house. Once that limb is removed, you may need to remove a few others to give the tree a balanced canopy.

4. If an old tree is in poor health, less pruning may help. Trim only dead branches. Healing after a pruning weakens a tree and reduces photosynthetic capability. You only need to sustain old trees with fertilizer and water.

5. Don’t prune because you’ve just bought a new saw. Recreational pruning is discouraged. Determine why you want to trim a tree. Is the objective safety, health or beauty? Have a reason. Less trimming gives you a healthier, lovelier tree.

To view tips 6 – 10 click the link below.

Source: 10 Pruning Tips To Healthier, Prettier Desert Trees | AMWUA

By Warren Tenney