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Tree shape/pruning questions

FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
2 questions in one post I'm afraid, sorry to be greedy!

Question/Tree 1 - Midland hawthorn planted last spring, seems to be doing ok, no flowers this year but hopefully next year.   Could I cut off those branches that are below the 'fork' in the trunk (for a nicer shape in the future) or would it hurt/stress the tree at this early stage?

Question 2 - A couple of mature holly trees that were here when I moved in are really really straggly and messy looking.  I was advised last year to 'hatrack' them but chickened out.  I'm after advice about how much I should cut them back without killing them from anyone who's had to do it themselves and succeeded!  To do it I'll need to get one of those really long loppers on extendable poles so if anyone's got any recommendations for those too that would be appreciated!


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    edited June 2021
    With the Hawthorn tree, I personally think it's best left alone. But totally up to you if you want to prune out lower branches. It's very easy to over-think the shape and form when they are that young. They will grow taller, so you most likely will find the canopy naturally lifting as it ages.

    On the Holly, it depends on what you are looking for. Left by themselves, some hollies do form a natural tall pyramid-like shape with light tiers. If this is what you want, then you can shorten and thin some branches back. Do them in stages, so take out half and then re-check next year and do again. If you are looking for a more bushier form, then you need to just shorten a lot of the branches. Again, do half this year and the other half next year.

    Don't leave the pruning any later though. New branches will not mature enough for the winter. You can prune next year in early spring too. They look pretty healthy and mature to me, so they will be fine with some heavy pruning if you need to do that.
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    Thanks Borderline, I might leave the Hawthorn for another year then and see how I feel and how it looks then. 

    The Hollies are mature (That's a 6 foot fence behind them) and seem healthy, but the lower branches are very floppy and thin and droop down making it look a mess.  I might just trim for now and see if they bulk up a bit! 

    Thanks for the tips and the reassurance that I won't be doing any harm!
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