Clippers better than saw

Cut early with clippers,
better than bigger cuts later with a saw

If you need a saw to prune a tree, you waited too long. Clippers are always better than a saw.

- Mike Loncar -

We may never be able to point to 70 year old proof, as our mentor Mike Loncar could, but we can already see the truth of this advice as our own planting and pruning work reaches the 20- and 30 year mark.

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(See Train Young Trees for our step-by-step demonstration of pruning a tree when it's small. We envision it large to decide what to cut, but we don't wait for it to get big.)

In the case we present here, a small flowering dogwood in our care (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Sunset') had been dying back. Each year some branches died and we removed them. We noted that the deadwood was mostly associated with a trunk that had been damaged at some time when the tree was small.

Below: See the bare limbs? That dead wood stems from a trunk with an old wound. (Arrows)

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After three years of removing dead limbs we concluded that the damaged trunk had to go. "Too bad the grower didn't take it out back when," we said, of the old wound. Then we gritted our teeth and sawed.


Right: A big cut to remove the damaged trunk. As we sawed, we imagined out we'd see the gap until sprouts that had appeared from below the wounded area grew to fill in.








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Above: When we removed the trunk (arrow) we were pleasantly surprised.

So nice to feel that our work might have been approved by two ladies we respect:

If you can see that it was pruned, you did something wrong. 

- Grandmother to our mentor Virginia Smith, teaching in the 1920's -

The best pruning is invisible. If what you cut out are bad branches, no one misses them. 

- Virginia Holman -






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