Dormant Pruning A Bald Cypress - IB2DWS - February 2024

I've been thinking about creating a post that features a list of hard-learned 'Garden Rules' that are absolutes in how I approach working in the garden and yard.  That list ebbs-and-flows each season, but one of the items that I KNOW (with certainty) will be on the list is this:  Leave newly planted trees alone.  Don't prune them for years.  Just don't touch them.  Don't 'limb-them-up'.  Don't do anything.  

I've learned this the hard way.  Thinking that I'd give the tree a better shot at growing up/out faster, I've pruned trees when they were small.  Eliminating far too much canopy in one go.

That means, for the past five-or-so years, I've followed my own advice and left young trees alone.  That includes the small Bald Cypress that I planted IB2DWs back in Fall 2018.  

But, a time comes when a young tree needs to get cleaned up.  And, this weekend was *that time* for our driveway Bald Cypress.   Below is a 'before' photo showing that this tree has limb'd out with a number of limbs that have emerged from the trunk all the way down to about 12" from the root flare.  This tree was planted BEFORE my neighbors built their house; so their driveway is now very close to it.  That means that the 'driveway-side' has been picked at over the years.  But, I decided to clean it up and remove a number of branches.  

Dormant Pruning Bald Cypress Tree

Here, below, is the pile of branches and limbs that I took off the tree.  I used a both my hand pruners and the larger limb loppers. 

Dormant Pruning Bald Cypress Tree

Below is the 'after' photo.  Hard to really tell what has been taken, but I thinned out the bottom 1/3rd of the tree, shortened all of the bottom 1/3rd limbs and went harder at the driveway-side than the bed-side of the tree.

Dormant Pruning Bald Cypress Tree

I'd like to prune this Bald Cypress up into a more tree-form shape with a canopy that starts about shoulder-or-head height.  But, like I said at the top of this post:  I'm really hesitant to prune young trees.  The rule-of-thumb is to never take more than about 25% of a tree's canopy in one year.  I certainly stayed under that percentage - so far - but as this needles-out, I'll take another look to see if I can take even more this Spring.  

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