The blackgum tree is classified as a pyramid-shaped tree with an excurrent growth habit, meaning it has a strong single trunk at maturity. The blackgum typically requires little pruning to keep its shape. In most cases, only the drooping, bottom branches require pruning, and then, only if those branches become a nuisance or hazard. The best time for substantial pruning of the blackgum tree is in the late autumn.
Prune the lowest-hanging branches first by making an undercut an inch or so past the branch collar, the area that connects a branch to the trunk of the tree. This will prevent the bark from ripping down the tree trunk during branch removal.
Cut through the branch several inches farther up the branch and remove the branch completely.
Remove the stub by cutting through the branch as close to, but not into, the branch collar area as you can.
Check farther up the tree for double leaders or multiple trunks. These will become visible when the bottom branches have been removed.
Remove excess branches, leaving only one main tree trunk.
Prune dead or diseased tree branches year-round.