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How to Prune a Weeping Birch Tree

By Paula Ezop ; Updated September 21, 2017

Young’s weeping birch is a deciduous white bark birch tree that can reach a height of 15 feet and a spread of 20 feet as a mature plant. It is hardy for zones 3 to 9. It makes an interesting focal point in small garden spaces and you can use it as a specimen tree in landscape design. You will need to prune it to remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches and also to maintain its shape and space within your landscape design. The pruning tools that you use will be determined by the size and location of the branch that you need to prune.

Cut away any dead, diseased or damaged branch as soon as possible. Dead and diseased branches should be removed completely. Damaged branches can be pruned at the point of the break or where it meets the connecting branch or trunk. This is a judgment call, and the place to make the cut depends upon how it affects the appearance and shape of the tree. Be sure to make a clean cut and do not leave any ragged or torn edges. Clean cuts allow the tree to heal properly. This can be done at any time during the year.

Visually inspect your tree to determine if you need to prune any large branches to maintain the size and shape of your weeping birch tree. This should be done in the fall, at the end of the growing season.

Locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Make your cut right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. Do not cut into the branch collar or branch bark ridge. Do not leave a stub.

Cut off any smaller branches or twigs by cutting it back to a side branch or making your cut approximately 1/4 inches above the bud. You may want to cut back some of the weeping, low hanging branches so that you can have better clearance under the tree, but this is a personal choice.

Perform a visual inspection of the crown of your tree as it matures. Look for any deadwood or branches that cross over each other. Deadwood and crossover branches should be removed. This is known as thinning of the crown and is usually done by a professional tree service. Professionals are knowledgeable as to what branches to cut in order to maintain the health, integrity and appearance of the tree. They are also accustomed to working with the heights that are involved in the pruning of a mature tree.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw

Tips

  • Removing deadwood from the crown of a tree allows the wind to move through the tree. This is especially important during high winds or storms and decreases the chance of storm damage to the tree and surrounding property.
  • Be sure that you prune the weeping birch in the fall. Do not prune it during the spring because this is when the bronze birch borer is present. Pruning wounds are entryways for the bronze birch borer.
  • Make sure that your pruning tools are sharp. Garden centers usually offer sharpening services to their customers during the growing season, something that you should take advantage of.

Warning

  • Do not prune branches or limbs that are in close proximity to electrical wires. Call the electric company.

About the 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.