Keep these six basics in mind when pruning this spring.

1. Blossom basics: timing is everything
To maximize flowering on spring-blooming trees, prune just after your tree or shrub has finished flowering. Pruning at this time avoids cutting off the flower buds for next year.

2. Less is more when pruning a newly planted tree
Limit pruning at the time of planting to removal of damaged branches. The tree will develop a stronger, more extensive root system if it has a fuller crown.

3. Flushing is for toilets
Cutting branches flush with the trunk removes the important branch collar, which helps the tree to close the wound. Cut just outside the branch collar at the base of the branch.

4. Put away the paints
There is no need to apply wound dressings. Research has shown that the common wound dressings do not inhibit decay and do not bring about faster wound closure. In fact, many of the commonly used dressings slow wound closure.

5. Topless trees are indecent
Don’t top trees! Topping trees can make them prone to failure down the road. Topping leads to decay and weakly attached branches. Besides, topping makes trees ugly.

6. No tourniquets required
While some trees, such as maples and birches, will “bleed” or lose sap from pruning cuts made early in the spring, this bleeding does not hurt the tree. However, because bleeding is unsightly, you might want to prune these species during the dormant season.

Read more: Spring Cleaning for Trees and Shrubs