Pruning; To Paint Or Not To Paint

By Jeff Floyd

Sunday, January 3, 2016, 3:00 am

Always have a plan before you prune. Dead, diseased or damaged branches can be removed any time of year. Same goes for branches rubbing against the roof or eaves of your home. Don’t allow them to cause damage to your home. If a long hanging branch interferes with your ability to mow your lawn then prune it out.

 Keep in mind that every leaf is a food factory whose purpose is to build sugars for your tree. Therefore never remove more than twenty percent of the living tissue of a tree in any given year. Pruning out more than this may cause severe stress. Winter dormancy is, in fact, a good time to perform the majority of your pruning.

Pruning just prior to spring growth allows wounds to callous over and protect the pruning injury more quickly. It is normal for certain trees such as maples, elms, and mulberries to “bleed” after pruning. Believe it or not, there are some beautiful maples suited for West Texas.

Many people still believe that pruning paint must be used to protect cuts. Research has proven that paint causes wounds to callous over more slowly allowing the wound to have a longer exposure to the elements. Oak trees are an exception.  All oaks are susceptible to a particularly deadly fungus called oak wilt. Sealing the wounds on oaks may help prevent the spread of the disease. Professional arborists may recommend not painting these wounds but they have the experience to evaluate all of the variables that place oak trees at risk. When the do-it-yourselfer prunes an oak tree, I recommend they consider using a proper sealant for any wound greater than one inch in diameter.

Hiring a professionally trained arborist is the surest way to get pruning done right.  To find an internationally certified arborist near you, visit and click on “find an arborist.”






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