Cutting down or pruning a birch tree is similar to working with other trees, but the time of year to prune is more important than with other trees. Because birch trees leak sap from tree wounds at a greater rate than other trees, it's best to prune the trees in late spring, summer or fall, when the sap doesn't flow as freely. Although the sap won't hurt the tree, it is unsightly. The tools needed will depend upon the reason for cutting into the tree and the thickness of the area being cut.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Dish soap
- Pole pruner
Clean and sterilise the cutting tools to prevent the spread of disease. Remove dirt and rust from the blades with a cloth, and sterilise the blades with 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Wash the blades with soapy water and rise thoroughly. Dry the tools thoroughly before use.
Clip away dead foliage or thin branches, using hand pruners.
Remove branches by finding the collar, which is an imaginary line on the main trunk or branch. Cut just outside of the collar with a handsaw.
Prune out-of-reach branches with a pole pruner or employ a ladder to gain access to higher-up branches.
Cut the birch tree as low down to the ground as possible for aesthetic reasons. Don't worry about removing only one trunk of a multi-trunked birch tree; it won't topple over because the root system is rather extensive.
Tips and warnings
- Don't trim upward growing branches on a weeping birch tree. As the tree grows, the limbs will naturally arch down. Prune only limbs that grow horizontally.
- Don't cut into the live wood. This stresses the tree more than necessary.
- Never prune more than one-quarter of the live foliage from a birch tree or you risk damaging it permanently.
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- North Dakota State University; Hortiscope- Questions on Birch; Ron Smith
- N.C. State University; Pruning Trees; Erv Evans; 2000
- University of Minnesota Extension: Pruning Trees and Shrubs; Mike Zins and Deborah Brown; 2002
- K-State Research and Extension; Master Gardener- Pruning Weeping Trees and Shrubs
- Tree Help: Pruning Tools