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Pruning a tree is necessary throughout the life of your tree. Tree pruning is needed in order to keep your roots and tree healthy and for it to continue growing in a healthy manner. You shouldn't prune a tree until it is grown into "adulthood." You shouldn't ever prune a young tree unless it has a broken branch.

The first thing you need to consider is what shape you'd like the tree to take. Many trees have shapes that come natural to them. Look at your tree and consider what shape yours would be most comfortable taking. Also, consider any power lines or buildings that are overhead from which you'll want to steer your tree clear. Make sure you give your tree plenty of space free from power lines or buildings, especially if youngsters play in and around your tree.

• Trees should be pruned in the winter months. This is the time trees aren't growing. It's also the time when it won't have leaves and is easiest to see what the problems are with your tree.
• Keep branches from rubbing against each other. Bark can be damaged when this happens. It also makes the tree more likely to acquire diseases. You can tell whether the branches on your tree are rubbing together by simply watching them. Look around your tree. Look for any branches that scrape against one another when the wind blows.
• Remove any broken or dead branches. You want to keep the diseased branches from the healthy ones. Disease spreads easily among branches in a tree. If you are pruning a broken branch on a young tree, be sure to take special care to prune only the area you intend on pruning. Pruning a young tree can be harmful if done improperly.
• Make sure branches have room to grow. You don't want branches to be overly crowded. Branches that are weaker are important for the overall health and air circulation in the tree. The more space you give individual branches, the healthier they'll be. If your branches have a significant amount of space, they'll get more attention from Mother Nature.
• Cut the branches above the point where they meet other branches. If you cut it right at the base, it will heal itself. These spots on the branches have special fibers that allow them to more quickly heal.
• Don't leave too much of the stub of the branch. If you leave too much stub, it allows a greater opportunity for diseases and insects to enter.
• To cut back a branch that's growing too long, cut the branch just above the swollen area of the branch, and cut it a slight angle. The bud you choose to cut the branch at will be the bud that grows, so you want to choose one that's facing the direction you want the branch to grow.