If your tree has been damaged by improper pruning, you can restore it. Cuts on young limbs (2 inches or less in diameter) can be repaired as shown in Reform School box. But larger limbs that have been lopped off or repeatedly pruned so that they have developed a knuckle need to be removed entirely. Trees that have been cut back to trunks 4 or 5 inches in diameter will never look natural again. These need to be cut flush to the ground so new trunks can be trained to replace the old.
Fixing Pruning Mistakes
- A stub left by an improper cut last year allowed two shoots to grow in place of the one that was removed.
- To restore the proper form, remove one of the two shoots.
- Then remove the stub.
- The result should be a cut that will heal into a single branch.
Although this may seem drastic, you can have a new tree in only two or three years because the established root system will support rapid growth. When new shoots appear, select the ones that are strong and well placed. Remove all others. You may have to remove suckers several times during the growing season, and you may have to support the long, limber shoots with stakes during the first year. But be patient and train your tree into a natural form. It will be a beauty once again.