When to Prune Willow, Elm, and Poplar Trees
Willow trees in general are one tree that you can prune just about any time and just about anywhere. But like most trees, it’s usually best to prune when the tree is dormant, like in the winter. But with willows, it doesn’t really matter too terribly much. But why you prune and your intended results are what matter with willow, so here are some things to keep in mind about pruning willow:
• Remember that whatever branch you cut off of a willow, many more will take its place.
• Think hard about what you want to achieve when you prune your willows. Aim for very basic of results- balancing out the weight of the tree, removing dead or diseased wood, or removing suckering sprouts.
• Trying to prune a willow to achieve a specific shape outside of how it normally wants to grow isn’t a good idea. So, if you plant a willow, be ready to accept what you get and give it lots of room to do so.
Elm trees need a lot of special consideration when it comes to pruning them because of Dutch elm disease. The only real good time to avoid the spore causing Dutch elm disease from entering vulnerable wounds is in the very early spring, In fact, lots of areas have laws regarding when you can prune elms, to help contain and avoid furthering the tree-destroying disease. How you prune elm trees is very similar to how to prune most other trees. Prune out old, dead wood, crossing and suckering branches, and other unsightly, unbalanced growth. Good pruning at the right time can actually help your elm fight off this disease down the road and recover from infections if it does get one by avoiding unnecessary and numerous accidental injuries at times when the tree could get infected.
Poplar trees do best when pruned in the late summer and autumn, because this helps discourage the suckering that poplars like to do when they receive an injury because they’re just entering dormancy and won’t put forth the energy to grow suckers. When you prune poplars, take great care to approach cuts with an “easy-does-it” attitude. Avoid tearing bark as you prune, as poplars don’t appreciate the stripping and removal of their bark. To do this (especially when removing heavier branches), cut off the weight of the branch gradually before removing the entire branch. Do not cut an entire branch off all at once if you can help it. With that in mind, trim and prune poplars just like other trees with the same basic principals in mind- for balance and health. Regular pruning of these fast growing and wonderful trees will extend their life and create a mature specimen that many will envy.