Before Pruning - California Pepper Tree

Before Pruning - California Pepper Tree

My husband and I decided we could save the $150 our gardener would charge us to prune our Pepper Tree by pruning it ourselves.  The tree should have been pruned this past fall, however time got away from us and we just didn’t get around to it.

The tree is threatening to take over our tiny front yard and the roses have begun to protest.  By “protest” I mean they are stretching to find sunlight, making them look more like climbing roses than shrub roses.  The tree provides our home with much needed shade in the summer months by blocking our west-facing cottage with filtered light rather than hot sun.

Even though I was Partner to a landscape business for 12 years, I never really pruned large trees.  My partner and I designed cottage gardens for our clients and we had an excellent team of workers that usually implemented our ideas.  That said, how hard can it be?  With the help of the internet I have printed out some key instructions on pruning a pepper tree.  This particular tree is less than 10 years old and the branches are still fairly small.  I have observed the ‘after’ of a professional tree trimmer and honestly, they sometimes butcher the tree they are attempting to prune. I plan to keep the overall grace of the tree while removing the dead wood and unnecessary branches.  My tip sheet recommends that the larger structural branches are called scaffold branches.  Because my tree is still fairly young I don’t expect to have to prune any of the main scaffold branches, however the expert recommends that if you do have to remove a scaffold branch you should begin sawing from the bottom to avoid stress on the remaining joint.  Once the main part of the branch is down you can cut the final 2′-3′ away from the trunk.

Start small with your cutting, it’s easier to remove more branches later then feel badly for removing too much.  If you do cut too much keep in mind the branches are like hair, they will grow back.  The Pepper Tree I’m attempting to prune will grow even faster once trimmed.

Tools needed:  1 pole pruner (our friend lent us an electric one, it should be easy to use), small landscape hand saw (for details that the pole prunner can’t handle), plenty of space to cut the removed branches into managable sized bundles for composting or disposal.  Fortunately our city recycles and we have a ‘greens’ can.  Wish me luck!

After the Tree Haircut

After the Tree Haircut