How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Pruning cuts

Topped treeTopped tree—growth of weak branches


Prune trees when they are young to minimize structural problems and to minimize the need to remove large limbs later, which could result in large wounds that can provide entry sites for decay and disease organisms.  Remove branches that cross, are attached to the trunk at a sharp angle, or that compete with the main leader.  Remove diseased limbs and consider pruning out pests confined to a small portion of the plant.  Pruning can help increase air circulation, which reduces the incidence of certain diseases.  Do not overprune so as not to cause unnecessary wounds or promote sunburn.

Heading and thinning are the two primary types of pruning cuts; heading removes a branch to a stub, a bud, or a small branch; a thinning cut removes a branch at its point of attachment.  Heading cuts stimulate new growth from buds just below the cut.  The resulting foliage and shoots are often dense.  Thinning cuts promote more evenly distributed growth throughout the plant and are stronger and retain more of the plant's natural shape.  Avoid topping trees, which is the drastic heading of large branches in mature trees.  Topping encourages the growth of branches weakly attached below the cut, which become susceptible to wind breakage.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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