The Ohio buckeye is a slow-growing tree that produces a brown, nut-like fruit. This fruit is characterized by a scar that gives it the appearance of an eye. Because the fruit is said to resemble a deer’s eye, it was named ‘buckeye,’ with the tree called the buckeye tree. Carrying a buckeye is thought to bring good luck, and the tree has become both the official tree of Ohio, and the mascot for Ohio State University. Since the Ohio buckeye is also known for an unpleasant odor secreted by leaves, flowers bark and broken branches, pruning it can be a fragrant (If not always pleasant) prospect.
Pinch young trees to train them into a desirable shape. Eliminate any forks in the tree create a strong leader. While doing this, you can also eliminate any branches that are not aesthetically pleasing. Since the Ohio buckeye is an extremely slow-growing tree, shaping it while it is young may mean that you never need to prune it again except in cases of dangerous or diseased limbs.
Select the proper tool for pruning your trees. Branches that are thinner than one inch in diameter may be cut with branch loppers. Branches that are thicker may require a pruning saw. The largest branches may call for the use of a chain saw.
Sterilize your cutting tools by mixing one part household bleach with nine parts water. Apply this mixture to your cutting tools in between pruning for healthy trees. If you are trimming diseased trees, sterilize your tools in between cutting individual branches.
Wait until late spring to prune your buckeye tree. Buckeye trees are deciduous, so the best time to prune them is around June in the northernmost hardiness zones. During this time, deciduous trees are fully leased out, and will be less prone to ‘bleed’ sap, which can weaken them and allow for infection and bugs.
Remove any branches that may be causing safety hazards first. These include branches that may have died and are at risk of falling on someone. Next remove any diseased or infested branches. Then remove branches that rub against one another and low-hanging branches where people may be walking. Finally, prune for aesthetic purposes. If you have shaped your tree when it was younger, then you shouldn’t need to prune your tree for aesthetic reasons.
Do not top or tip tree branches. Instead remove the branches where they sprout from the trunk of the tree. Make your cuts evenly, and avoid splintering or tearing the tree branch or bark. Large limbs should be undercut six inches out from the tree’s trunk. Then a second cut should be made further out to remove the branch. Finally, a cut should be made against the tree trunk. The cut should be made outside the branch collar. It should start outside the branch bark ridge, and angle down and away from the trunk.