Thinning and Pruning

  • Amar 
Thinning and Pruning

Do you know about thinning and pruning? how it works, let’s know today, The tree is a subject that some are for thinning and pruning and pruning little or none; others are for pruning a great deal and thinning!

It would be of the most essential advantage to plantations in general!

If one rule could be laid down, and followed up throughout all the stages of plantations, with regard to their management and previous planting; for then it must, of course, follow!

That however short-lived one manager of a plantation might be, it behooved his successor to follow up the same plan that he had begun, and so on in succession!

Pruning and Thinning Trees

Pruning and Thinning Trees
Pruning and Thinning Trees

Supposing you have a plantation to begin to look after, that has been planted with all kinds of hardwood and firs, promiscuously!

And where the plantation is designed chiefly for profit, not for ornament!

The first having has been planted with a view to nurse up as well as to shelter the hardwood!

Which is of great use, and is absolutely necessary for situations that are much exposed!

When the plants, call them now trees, arrive at five or six feet high, for it is difficult to say at what age of the planting this ought to be done!

The growth will depend much upon the situation and soil;

But at five or six feet high, go through the plantation, take away every fir’s tree that is in the smallest degree impeding, or likely to impede!

The growth, or over-topping, or likely to over-top, any of the hardwoods!

Taking care to leave a sufficiency of fir for shelter, and particularly on the outsides, or on those sides!

The plantation most exposed, going through the plantations regularly every year!

Every two years thereafter, and taking away gradually, as may be required, every fir tree, till, at the time the hardwood trees arrive at the height of 12 to 15 feet!

The trees being of this height, thin out all the hardwood trees to a distance of ten feet tree from the tree!

Having done this part of the work gradually, until the trees arrive at the height of 15 feet, there should not be a single fir tree in the entire plantation!

It will be easily understood, that by the trees to be taken away, I mean nursing trees or trees for training up the others!

Unless round the outside or places most exposed, where they may be of use to shelter the interior of the plantation!

Supposing now, when your trees are at the height of fifteen feet, you have a plantation totally of hardwood!

And that two of the most valuable kinds, such as oak, ash, elm, beech, Spanish chestnut, and plane!

I mention these kinds, not only as of the most valuable, but as they will, most generally all grow, thrive, and come to maturity on the same soil!

The oak excepted, which will thrive and grow to maturity among whinstone rock, where there is hardly any soil perceptible!

Which can be easily seen in the neighborhood of Inverary, Argyles hire, and in many places of the Highlands of Scotland!

And also on the face of the Ochil Hills, such as on the estates of Alva and Airworthy, where there can be seen large oaks growing almost out of the solid rock!

Here it will be necessary to leave the operations of thinning cut for a little and say something of pruning, which is a work that ought to be done with great care and attention!

As much of the growth, and also the shape, or rather the valuable purposes!

That a hardwood tree maybe made to answer, depends on its being timorously and properly pruned!

In this case, the infallible adage can hold the sensible train up a youth within the method he ought to go, and once he’s recent he won’t depart from it!

Trees, by proper management, when very young, can be brought to almost any shape!

The attention paid to a plantation, or individual trees, when young, always determine the future prosperity and value of the plantation or tree!

Pruning Trees

Thinning and Pruning
Thinning and Pruning

Supposing you have a plantation, such as I have been describing, in the way of thinning and supposing the plants to have been properly pruned before being put into the ground!

Which ought to be the case, and is now generally attended to, after the first thinning cut!

Which we suppose is done when the trees are from 5 to 6 feet high, go over the whole plantation again, and with a knife prune from off the ash, beech, and the plane!

All such stems and shoots as may seem to be entwined with the main stem, making and keeping!

The main stems as clean as possible, and drawing them up to a very small top, so as not to injure the look of the tree!

Still, if it is a forest tree, and intended solely for profit, the value must be more regarded and attended to the look of the tree!

It is often necessary for the health of the tree, to have some branches on the main bole!

Those to be left for this purpose should be such as will do the least injury to the trunk of the tree when it comes to being timber, and here I would recommend to the forester!

To be particular in his selection of those to be left, and be sure always that those left be branches!

That comes out horizontally from the bole, and lop off those that rise perpendicularly up with the tree, as these have always a much greater swell at the trunk of the tree!

And make far more coarse, and often blemished timber, then the branch growing in a direct line out from the tree!

In order to assist branches, useful for the health of the tree, to grow this way, tie a stone or weight to their top, and let it hang downwards!

Which will keep the root of the branch from growing to any large size with the trunk of the tree?

The same time will serve the same purpose in pumping up the juices for the tree’s nourishment!

Whereas the branch that grows upgathers what we term a cleft, and lodges wet, betwixt the trunk and the branch, which always rots the bark, and leaves a blemish in the timber when cut up!

This is also the reason for what is called the bark-gawks in timber?

We often see stripes of bark in boards of timber when cut up, which leaves a hole, and renders the board useless; and this is the cause from which it proceeds; and at this time!

When any of these kinds of trees have two stems, each contending for superiority!

If it can possibly be done, without a material injury to the main stem, it ought to be lopped off, and carefully dressed up!

The value of these trees depends entirely on the cleanliness, straightness, and tallness of their boles or main trunks!

The value of the branches, even though they become measurable, especially of the beech and plane, being, in many places in this country!

Next to nothing, this is the time to begin to train up ash, beech, and the plane, to be valuable trees!

The value of the oak, elm, and Spanish Chesnutt depends a good deal on their being crooked, as they are all used in ship-building!

And indeed crooked elm is valuable for fillies or treads for coach and cartwheels, and these trees require a different treatment in the way of pruning!

If you have oak, elm, or Chesnutt, that has two stems, as it were, striving for superiority, lop, or prune off the straightest upright growing stem!

If a tree that is not likely to be of such value be standing on that side!

Which the stem left seems to incline to a horizontal position, take away the tree, and give it every chance of growing horizontally!

This time it will be necessary to take away a few of the perpendicular shoots off the horizontal branch; and, indeed, if these branches!

Which is sometimes the case in these trees, seem to contend, take away most of them!

But if they do not, it is better at this time not to prune these trees over much, except the crooked shoots on the horizontal branch, till they arrive at the height of fifteen or even 20 feet!

By this time it will easily see what kind of tree it is likely to form; and, if it inclines to grow crooked, lighten a little the top of the tree!

By taking off a few of the crooked branches on the straighter side!

Allowing all the branches to remain on the side to which the tree inclines to crook, to give it more weight!

And to draw most of the sap or juice that way, and it will naturally incline more to the crook!

The same time clearing away any other tree on the crooked side, that may be apt with the wind to whip the side of the tree to which it inclines to a crook!

Also taking away such a tree of less value may prevent it from spreading out to one side more than the other!

If the tree is considerably advanced, say to twenty feet or more, it should be observed that some of the shoots from the main branch of the tree (for such it may now be called)!

That was and is growing, and maintaining a horizontal position!

If these shoots are rising perpendicularly from it, they ought, even at this advanced period, immediately to be taken off, leaving always most of those suckers, or small twigs!

The extremity of the branch, and on that part of it inclining downwards, to prove the means of drawing most of the sap to that part of the tree, and inclining it to grow still more horizontally!

By carefully attending to these few hints, in the way of pruning and training up trees for crooks, experience, as it has taught me, will soon show you the benefit to be derived from it!

The experiment with several oak trees, at about twelve feet high, was a little inclined to crook and that had also the main branch inclined to a horizontal position!

In the course of fewer than twenty years, the pleasure of seeing some of these very trees grow so very crooked!

That the branch would work in with the main stem or body of the tree, to a complete knee, or square, which is the most valuable of all trees!

And as 10 trees of crooked oak are required for one straight one, it is of the most essential the consequence to have crooked oak trees; and, besides, an oak tree properly crooked!

That will answer for a large knee say the main branch to be fit to work in with the body or trunk of the tree without much waste of wood and at the same time!

Have a cleanness and evenness of contexture, such a tree is more than treble in value the same number of straight trees; and, indeed, knees of oak are extremely scarce and difficult to be got!

Elm and chestnut are not so much used for knees as for flooring and foot-hook timbers of a ship, which are also very valuable!

By carefully attending to these hints a great many valuable crooks may be obtained!

But the oak is the most valuable, and the forester would do well to attend in particular to make these grow crooked when they are to be reared for ship-building!

I pruned a considerable number of oak trees, which were then twelve years old, among which were a number that!

Their tops were growing in a horizontal direction of different angles and curves, and were pruned according to your system!

The same year, in autumn, I scraped off the unnatural shoots upon the bole!

About the middle of August 1825, the same process was repeated, which was easily accomplished, as there were not one-third of these shoots which were the preceding year!

And towards the latter end of August 1826, scarcely one of these shoots were to be seen upon the trees; any which seemed extremely weak, and their points decayed!

Also in all kinds of profitable pruning, have found that this system is the only auxiliary yet in practice, to attain tall clean boles and wholesome timber!

The expense of scraping off these unnatural shoots (so high as is intended to extend the bole next operation) is a mere trine, as a man can with ease go over several hundred per day!

Provided the operation is begun in time, and afterward regularly attended to before they are internally united with the present year’s growth!

And, permit me to say, attention to that one very particular and important object is the only and effective alternative to producing sound and unblemished timber!

To attain such must be a chief point in forestry, and no doubt the sole design of extensive planting!

But until a mode of this kind or some other homogeneous is properly established!

Pruning young trees

Which have been regularly trained from infancy, I have not the smallest hesitation to displace the largest exuberant branches!

Provided an adequate number of smaller branches are left to produce an abundance of leaves sufficient to concoct their juice!

However, the exact number of branches to be left, no pen can with propriety determine, nor even a plate truly represents!

Farther than the position each lateral should be placed upon the bole when trees are found that will allow the proper system to be carried into effect!

But as instances of this nature so seldom occur in practice, without trees have been regularly trained from infancy, in that case!

I presume, that the only alternative for those who are unacquainted with the proportion of lateral branches requisite for the future health of trees!

They should strenuously pay attention to the modes adopted by those who are famed in the profession, but only those who can buy their works produce sound and unblemished timber!

The amputating of large brandies must very much retard the growth as well as injure the future health of young vigorous growing trees!

If the wounds are above one-inch diameter; and, at all events, pruning should be completely finished (except thinning the tops) before redwood is into the branches, so soon as it is!

The wound does not externally unite with the subsequent growths; it matters not how much or how little redwood is, but, according to its size!

The gangrene extends either in small or large wounds, and no aid can prevent its progress from reaching the heart!

This may seem strange to some, but, after a moment’s reflection, it may be easily accounted for, as the redwood does not externally unite, it must, and does internally decay!

For so soon as a branch is cut when redwood is into it, the wanted nourishment does withdraw to give place for corruption!

Also, all species of trees, deciduous or evergreen, are liable to decay from the effect of injudicious pruning; the oak and elm in particular!

When large branches are amputated after the trees have attained to the size which might be called timber!

Neither does the white or sapwood unite after the trees are old, on account of the wound being so long exposed to the inclemency of the weather!

And having lost the strong cementing juice of a vigorous sapling!

What I have said regarding the system of training young trees’ in general, intended for timber, may suffice for the intelligent to make further improvements!

And a track for the yet illiterate to pursue; in the hope of which, permit me an observation or two upon the system of pruning neglected plantations and trees!

However, at present, to attempt a full detail upon that part of the forest, would be superfluous, as just reasons could be produced to fill the sheets of a quarto volume!

With respect to the defect of timber occasioned by the various injudicious modes of pruning!

Therefore, I will solely confine myself at present to one very particular mode of pruning neglected plantations, above twenty years old, or after the trees are so large that the timber is useful!

The general system too frequently practiced, seems not altogether to affect the design of its origin: and, should I be asked the reason!

The reply would be because it does not produce sound, but blemished timber!

The verity of it none can contradict, as witnesses are in every plantation, and upon every tree without exception, where that most horrible practice of amputating large branches was allowed!

That upon young healthy trees, these wounds may cover, (provided a great number are not cut off at once,) and to all external appearance!

The timber perfectly sound, but such is not the case, and those who imagine so, are only deceiving themselves; to prove the verity of it, uncover a wound, the dismal catastrophe will appear!

Among the many of these illiterate practices, so prevalent, I shall only point out two instances that occurred upon estates adjoining the one formerly mentioned!

  • In the year 1815, a great number of hedge-row trees were pruned, (principally oak, elm, and ash) for the express purpose of obtaining tall clean boles!

The wounds were in size from three to nine inches diameter!

This time not one of these wounds is healed over, also what is worse, the boles are completely covered over with unnatural wood or shoots!

The top of the trees are in a languishing state, being robbed of their due, In the year 1824, a number of them were felled!

Which I examined, and those which had large wounds scarcely a sound foot was, except the lower part of the bole, where no branches were pruned off!

  • Another instance I remember of being done in the year 1819; the trees were of the same kind!

And pruned like long poles, with a mop on their tops, and are, in every respect, fast approaching the state of the former!

Having seen, and by the experience felt the evil resulting from such injudicious management!

I have tried a system of pruning which appeareth to be better adapted for reclaiming neglected plantations or trees!

Than anyone system yet put into practice, or ever can, while the system of amputating large branches exists!

Prune out the small exuberant branches at the top of the tree, but so as not to injure it’s a natural figure if in case it is not top-heavy!

But on no pretense cut any branch above one-inch diameter, excepting dead ones, which the tree must be completely cleaned of 2nd, After the top, is lightened!

Prune all the remaining branches upon the tree in every respect the same as pruning young trees of the same size and species, and be particular to prune off all small unnatural twigs!

Either upon the bole or branches, so far as they are pruned out, or can reach; and, to finish the tree completely, all moss should be scraped off!

This can be done for a mere trifle; an active boy can do the operation well, and as fast as one man can prune!

Pruning, according to this method, will not lengthen the bole farther than nature has determined; however!

The reclaiming of neglected plantations or trees, according to this method, will always produce sound timber, which sells at all times at full value!

To return to ash, beech, and plane, the same method as is used in pruning them at five feet high, ought to be pursued!

And carried on until the trees shall have arrived at from 20 to 30 feet high; taking care to train them up to grow as clean, straight, tall, and with a few branches!

In their main trunks, as they possibly can be reared with; as their value, either for machinery or husbandry depends on their being straight and free from knots!

And beech in particular for ships’ keels and planks; therefore there should be no pruning allowed on trees after they are from fifteen to twenty feet high!

Indeed the sooner the operation of pruning is finished the better, because when done (though sometimes necessary)!

When the trees arrive at an advanced age and even done in the best and most careful manner possible!

It not only has a tendency to injure the growth of the tree, but it also leaves blemishes in it, which, though apparently healed up!

And the tree looks well and has not the least the appearance of any blemish when cutting up by the tradesman after!

Shows blemishes, altogether unforeseen when the tree was growing; and entirely owing to bad or late pruning, which renders the timber of such a tree almost useless!

The pruning should, therefore, be done when the tree is young, and taken close into the interior of the bark, with a very sharp instrument!

And taking particular care not to hurt or injure any of the bark but where the branch is cut off!

If a large branch requires to be taken off any tree, which may be the case if the branch is dead; supposing this, it is better to take off the branch rather than to let it rot off!

For then it generally leaves a wound in which the water lodges; and consequently leaves a blemish in the trunk of the tree!

In taking it off, saw it about eight or ten inches from the trunk; sawing it first so far through from the underside, and in sawing it from above!

The weight of the branch will cause it to give way before it is quite cut through, without any risk of injury to the tree by splitting!

On the other hand, if at first cut close to the trunk it would split down, at any rate, it would tear the bark from the body of the tree, and of course, very much injure it!

Besides, if cut close to the tree, at first the weight of the branch, although it was so far cut below to save splitting, would leave small rents!

Which the heat of the sun would open, so as to receive water, and consequently very materially injure the tree!

In the event of cutting the branch twice, the second cutting of it prevents all risk, and when cut off with the saw, ought to be dressed up with a sharp instrument to prevent water from lodging in it!

And a little balsam, such as recommended in the section on the diseases of trees in this work, spread over it, which greatly prevents either the sun or the wet from proving injurious to it!

But, unless in cases of a very particular nature, large branches, as I have said before, should not be cut off!

We shall leave the subject of pruning, and return to thinning, as in page!

Suppose the plantation is a total of hardwoods, of above 15 feet high, and after the operation of pruning, for at least one year, such as required pruning, was finished!

It will be proper to thin them gradually year after year!

And to take away in a regular manner those trees more especially that are not thriving, and are the most unlikely to become valuable!

And, at the same time, to endeavor to keep the remaining trees as regular as possible, in order to have a complete crop upon the ground!

This mode of thinning, or weeding must be carefully attended to, so as not to make gaps or blanks in the planting!

And particularly at such places of the plantation as are much exposed, keep the trees there always a little closer or thicker on the ground!

The manager or forester need not be told, that the thinnings will now be coming to be of some value; and if to be sold in whatever way, they ought always to be cut down!

Either by or under the constant attendance of the person to whom the care of the plantation is entrusted; and he ought to take particular care that, in cutting the trees to be taken out!

He does not allow them even so much as to fall on those intended to stand, because although little or no damage may be done apparently to the standing tree!

Yes, it has a tendency to lose it at the root, and thereby hurt its growth!

Thus, by carrying on the operation of thinning in a gradual manner, it will now and then, as the thinnings are becoming more and more valuable, be bringing in a considerable sum to the proprietor!

This operation must be carried on as need requires until the trees are from thirty to forty years old, and at this time the plantation should be brought to such a state of perfection!

That the trees, (if ash, beech, or planetree,) should be at least from 20 to 25 feet from each other!

If the plantation is to be converted into a grove of trees for ornament and to be pastured under and amongst them, they should be thinned out to stand at a distance of 34 feet, a tree from the tree!

But if oaks, elms, chestnuts, being crooked or large topped trees, from twenty-five to 34 feet from each other, according to as the tops of the trees are in extent!

The distances must be regulated by the tops of the trees, in order to keep them from hurting one another, and not at all by the roots, supposing them forest trees to be reared chiefly for value!

Having proceeded so far in thinning or weeding the number of trees now remaining on the grounds, they may be allowed to remain till they are 60 years old, and then thinned out to 35 feet distant!

It may be said that there are still too many for a crop, that is to say, more than the ground will carry; but it may be observed, that trees are liable to many accidents, both by wind, lightning!


That making this allowance, it will be necessary to keep them a little plentiful, rather than have them too much thinned, and have thereby but a scanty crop!

It will be here observed, that I have, all along, been considering a plantation planted chiefly for profit, not for ornament, and the planter, or at least the person who began to train it up when the trees were 5 or 6 feet high!

That’s it!

If you enjoyed this Article Like it, Share it with your friends!

If you have a moment, please consider leaving a comment on this post to spread the word!

We greatly appreciate it! If you have any questions or feedback, leave us a message!