How to Prune Betula

Updated February 21, 2017

Betula, also known as birch, is a genus of trees often used in landscaping. Birch trees are known for their aesthetically pleasing white bark. If cared for properly, a birch tree can live 40 to 50 years. However, they have very little resistance to bugs. Additionally, many people plant birch trees in locations that don't suit them or don't know how to maintain the trees properly. The average life of a birch tree in a landscape setting is 20 years. Follow some steps to prune your Betula.

Look at your calendar and make sure that the date that you want to prune your Betula doesn't fall between May 1 and August 1. If it does, pick a different date outside of this range. An insect called the bronze birch borer likely will infect and kill your tree if you prune it within this date range.

Set up a ladder under the branches that you want to cut. It's important not to cut more than 25 per cent of the leaves and branches. If this happens, too much light will enter the soil at the base of the tree and negatively affect the temperature of the soil. This can damage your tree.

Climb the ladder and use a saw to remove or shorten any branches that are too long. Prune the branches at 45-degree angles just above the branch collar. The branch collar is the area that connects the branch to the main trunk. Branches that are too long may be dangerous as they could fall and damage property or cause injuries. Long branches may also interfere with utility lines. Be careful that the branches don't fall on you as you remove them from the tree.

Apply an off-the-shelf tree insecticide to any fresh wounds to the limbs. Insecticides come in powder or liquid form. Use the right equipment when you apply the insecticide. Use a hose-end sprayer or tank sprayer when applying liquid insecticide. If you are using powder insecticide, sprinkle the substance onto the areas of the tree where insects reside. Be sure to use protective gloves and a face mask so you don't inhale the powder. If you don't apply insecticide, your birch tree will likely become infected with insects that will cause harm to the tree and shorten its life.

Dispose of the cut branches in a receptacle approved by your local municipality. Gather the tree branches that you cut and tie them together using a string. Many municipalities prohibit the disposal of large items in residential garbage bins. You can contact your garbage removal company for more information.


Avoid wrapping the fresh bark wounds with tree bandages. This will not prevent an infestation of insects.


Wear gloves and goggles when cutting branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Saw
  • Insecticide
  • Tank sprayer or hose-end sprayer
  • Protective gloves
  • Face mask
  • String
  • Dumpster
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About the Author

Tzvi Raphael has worked with Fortune 500 companies helping them to maximize their online brand exposure through innovative Web design, content, and marketing. Additionally, Raphael is a writer for multiple high-traffic blogs and websites including eHow and Weight Ladder.