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The original item was published from 4/11/2017 2:06:00 PM to 4/11/2017 2:17:31 PM.

News Flash

Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: April 11, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Tree Pruning

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Snow is melting and our trees and shrubs are waking up from a long Montana winter. In winter, woody plants go into a state of dormancy where their sap and fluids retreat to their roots. In most situations, this is the time of year where astute tree care, particularly correct pruning techniques encourages a healthy and proper structure.

How you care for a tree early in its life will impact its future shape, strength, and life span. Correct pruning is a practice of altering a plant’s form for esthetic reasons, usually done when the plant is in a state of dormancy. Pruning can also be considered as a preventative maintenance practice to alleviate problems that can occur in a plant’s formative.

“Proper pruning will save you money and give you a safer, healthier, more beautiful, and easier to maintain trees.” Tree City USA

Pick up your free copy of “How to Prune Young Shade Trees” from the MSU Extension office here in Butte-Silver Bow or join in for a hands on activity to learn more about this important topic. Terrific Tree Trimming held at Emma Park every Thursday at noon beginning April 6 until May 11, is a chance for you to learn and gain the necessary experience to grow healthier, more beautiful, and easier to maintain trees.

Some tips of using proper pruning standards are to first look over the tree from top to bottom, identifying the central leader, any broken dead dying diseased or damaged branches, any branches that touch or cross, where the lowest permanent branch would be and identifying temporary branches below the lowest permanent branch.

Once you have observed it is time to prune those braches identified in your assessment. How to prune a branch is simple. First identify the branch collar, this is a swell around each of the branches whether it connects to the trunk or another lateral branch. It is important to not flush cut but to trim the branch just outside of this swell. When you do this, it allows the tree to compartmentalize to keep insects and disease out once the wound has heeled. On the contrary if this cut is made too far away from the branch collar a stub will be left and will not allow the tree to heal the wound over.

No more than a third of the canopy should be trimmed away in any one season. By following this practice, you will ensure that the tree has enough foliage to support the roots below. Also when pruning back a branch to the next node or lateral, it should be a third of the size of the branch left. This ensures that the lateral that you pruned to is large enough to keep the remaining branch alive. 

Please join us for this service-learning program as we prune public trees along Montana Street this 2017 spring season.

Know of a tree that needs pruning?  Check out our new Report a Tree Form 

For more information, please contact Kellee Anderson, MSU Extension Butte-Silver 305 W. Mercury St. Suite 303, Butte; telephone 406-723-0217 or email

For More Resources, see the following documents:
How to Prune Young Shade Trees
Tree Pruning Guide

Need to know how to prune a tree?
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