General rules apply for when to start pruning and when to stop pruning trees. At planting time, delay pruning for the first few years. It is OK to remove double leaders, dead, damaged or diseased branches during these years. The next four to 10 years are the most critical time to prune young trees to develop strong branching structure and so branches are removed when fairly small. Ideally, remove branches before they reach two to four inches in diameter. Remove branches before they reach two inches in diameter whenever possible. Smaller pruning wounds callus over more easily than larger wounds and more efficiently create chemical walls to avoid the spread of decay within a tree. It is also important to avoid over pruning and not to treat pruning wounds with dressing or tree paints.
According to Colorado State University: "Do not indiscriminately remove branches with live foliage as this can add stress to the tree. The amount of live wood and foliage that can be removed per season depends on the growth rate of the tree. As a rule-of-thumb for healthy trees, 10 to 15 percent of the live foliage may be removed per season. For actively growing medium aged trees without growth limitation factors (such as a dry site or restricted rooting spread), up to 20 percent of the foliage may be removed per season. For young actively growing trees (growth phase of life cycle) without growth limiting factors up to 25 percent of foliage may be removed per season. The amount of live wood and foliage removed should be reduced for trees with growth limiting factors, such as non-irrigated sites and limited root spread."
Many landscape perennials were affected by last summer's extremely dry conditions. Desiccation injury resulted when plants could not replace water fast enough that was lost through leaves, crowns or stems. Leaves became burnt and dry, and more seriously some root dieback may have occurred. Badly affected plants may have reduced foliage growth this year as root growth is replaced. Keep plants well watered through spring and into summer, if dry conditions persist, and mulch plantings with 2 to 3 inches of wood chip mulch to conserve soil moisture.
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