Prune a Prunus

A few years ago our town gave away trees to residents. Who wouldn’t was a free tree? We got two sour cherry trees (Prunus cerasus). We let them establish themselves for a couple years and last February we planned to give them their first pruning. However, last February the trees were surrounded by about 100 feet of snow. (Okay, it was closer to 9 feet…).

There have been some periods of very mild weather in New England this winter, including last weekend. The perfect time to prune, I thought. The only stopping block was my total lack of tree trimming experience. Thankfully, we live in the Computer Age and I found some reliable pruning advice on the internet. Two sites I found particularly helpful were these:

This short and sweet guide from University of California

University of Minnesota has an easy to read guide, also

I also perused my Mom’s copy of Crocket’s Victory Garden (an old edition of the book that goes with the PBS show) last year and took a few notes.

So, the take away message- trim anything dead or damaged, remove any little sprouty twig things (“suckers”) on the main trunk, and trim branches that are pointing down or towards the midline of the tree. Since this was my first try at pruning I also aimed to err on the side of under pruning rather than over pruning. Here are a few pictures of the process. I just could not get good pictures of the whole trees, so I don’t have a “before” and “after”.

See how those two branches cross? The one in front had to go. Branches that rub can damage each other.

See how those two branches cross? The one in front had to go. Branches that rub can damage each other.

This branch was aimed towards the midline of the tree. Not any more.

This little branchling was aimed towards the midline of the tree. Not any more.

 

Yeah, that wonky one pointing towards the lower left corner had to go.

Yeah, that wonky one pointing towards the lower left corner had to go.

 

Lots of little sticks that simply were not up to snuff.

Lots of little sticks that simply were not up to snuff.

I’m sure my pruning job was less than perfect, but I did open up the centers of my trees and remove some energy-sucking branches. Overall, I think the trees will benefit. I feel a little more confident managing the permanent residents of the Food It Yourself Garden. Now, to figure out the best way to keep the house sparrows from getting all he cherries…