The narrowleaf cottonwood grows from southern Alberta to Arizona, Oregon and California. Used for soil stabilization along stream banks, narrowleaf cottonwood also provides food and shelter for birds and small mammals; beavers use it to build and maintain their dams. Narrowleaf cottonwood can reach up to 65 feet tall and can be pruned to maintain its shape.
Prune narrowleaf cottonwood in the fall after most of the leaves have fallen. This will ensure hardy growth the following season.
Cut back the top part of the tree with pruning shears. Prune to the terminal bud, which is the main section of growth.
Cut back lateral branches that are warped or gnarled. The goal is to produce one strong stem leader.
Prune broken, pest-infested or diseased branches by cutting off the entire branch.
Prune to one central shoot and remove all thin branches on narrowleaf cottonwood saplings. This will free up needed nutrients for the rest of the tree.
Remove all root suckers, or shoots sprouting out of the root base.