How to Prune Honey Locust

Overview

Honey locust trees are known for their airy-light appearance. Small leaves and a freestyle shape create this airy appearance. The leaves turn a soft yellow color in the fall and the small leaves do not need to be raked. Instead, they can be left to decompose without harming the grass in any way. Normally, this tree requires very little pruning. However, low branches should be pruned if they interfere with a walkway or if they get too close to a building (where they might damage the building). Dead or dried-out branches should be pruned to maintain the health of the tree, and diseased branches should be removed immediately.

Step 1

Locate any dead or dried-out limbs. Determine where to make your cut by locating the branch collar (this is located on the underside of the branch where the branch meets the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is located on the topside of the branch where the branch meets the trunk). You can prune dried or dead limbs at any time of the year.

Step 2

Cut just before the branch collar and branch bark ridge. Choose the correct pruning tool according to the size of the branch to be pruned. Hand pruners and lopping shears can be used on small-diameter branches. The pole pruner should be used on high branches (those branches that are out of your reach). The pruning saw will be most useful on larger-diameter branches.

Step 3

Follow the same procedure for live branches. The pruning of live branches should be done in late summer. As a rule of thumb, never cut off more than a fifth of the tree in a single season. Severe pruning will cause the tree to go into shock, a shock from which it might not recover and you will have to replace your tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never prune branches that are close to electrical wires. This is best left to the power company. If the limbs are large and high on the tree or if the branches are high and close to your house, have a professional do the pruning. Professionals are skilled in knowing how to cut large limbs without causing any damage to homes, fences or sheds that might be in the area.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Pole pruner

References

  • Orchard's Edge
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • University of Minnesota Extension
Keywords: pruning honey locust branches, dead diseased branch, cut trunk professional arborist

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.