How To Protect Your Tree From Fungal Diseases When Pruning

Posted on: 10 June 2020


Pruning is, by and large, good for your tree. By removing dead branches, you allow the tree to better focus its resources on the remaining healthy branches. Trimming also keeps the tree a nice, attractive shape, which can make your whole yard look better. But there is one thing you need to keep in mind when trimming trees, and that's the risk of fungal disease. The open wounds left when you prune are the perfect spot for infectious fungi to invade. Luckily, there are some precautions you can take when trimming to protect the tree from this threat.

Trim your tree in late winter

Late winter is the time when infectious fungi are the least active. Trees also tend to leak less sap when pruned in late winter, which makes fungal spores less likely to stick to the cut stumps of branches. In most areas, you should prune no later than early March. If temperatures are regularly above freezing or the tree is beginning to bud, you've waited too long. Unless the tree urgently requires pruning for health reasons, you are best off just skipping this year and waiting until next year to prune.

Sanitize your shears

Make sure you sanitize your shears before you trim your tree and between trees. This will remove and kill any fungal spores that might be on the shears. You can either sanitize the shears with alcohol or with bleach water. A capful of bleach in a gallon of water is enough for good sanitation. Just dip the shears in, let them air dry, and then trim away.

Cut the branch past the branch collar

When pruning the tree, leave about an inch of branch behind. This part of the branch, where it connects to the tree trunk, has a lot of vascular tissue. If you cut through it, the tree will leak a lot of sap, which will make fungal spores more likely to stick. Leaving the branch collar intact will minimize sap loss and also reduce the risk of infection. When in doubt, leave a little more branch rather than a little less.

If you follow the tips above, you will reduce the risk of fungal infection when trimming a tree. For more tips and advice, reach out to a tree trimming company near you. They can also come do the trimming for you, which will ensure your tree gets the best care around.