Here is how our overgrown tree looked after step 1 of our crabapple pruning was completed. See Crabapple Pruning in 4 Easy Steps: Overgrown Mess No More (Part 1 of 3) for details. Now, we will continue onto step 2, water sprout removal.
CRABAPPLE PRUNING: WATER SPROUT REMOVAL
Water sprouts are shoots that grow from the trunk of a tree or from branches that are several years old. They grow from a dormant bud usually straight up as the result of excessive pruning or a damaged branch.
The 2nd step was to remove the water sprouts that grew from the lower branches. These shoots grow from below a lower branch up into the area of a higher branch. These are easy to recognize when looking at the structure of a tree in the winter. They are the branches other than the leader that is growing straight up. Removing them improves the structure of the tree and prevents major problems in the future.
Summer pruning tends to suppress growth of suckers and water sprouts that can result from pruning earlier in the year. This mid-August time frame was a great time to do this heavy pruning of the tree and not trigger even more regrowth in the spring. I admittedly did prune off a large amount of the flowers that the tree would have had in the spring. It will have more flowers in the following years as the rootstock sucker growth will not be stealing energy from the rest of the tree.
CRABAPPLE PRUNING: REMOVING BRANCHES GROWING IN ODD WAYS
Branches growing in odd directions are usually the result of a shoot getting stuck and it grew in the wrong direction for a number of years. As they grow they thicken and are stuck in their odd position.
The 3rd step is to look for any branches that have been growing oddly, such as:
– back towards the middle of the trunk after growing outward,
– down towards the ground,
– 90 degree or greater bends.
This tree had a classic example of this. There is no way that this branch is going to be fixed. When it was young and had not formed wood, it probably could have been unstuck from its odd position. After several years of wood forming, it is not going anywhere except in the debris pile. Out comes the pruning saw.
Next time, I will cover one more necessary step in all overgrown crabapple pruning. As well as one additional step that your tree may or may not need. Click here to read it now.