This is the time when many young trees are planted to improve our landscapes. A small amount of yearly pruning can prevent future problems with these young trees.
Even though most trees will have their lowest side branches at the 6- to 8-foot level when they are mature, it is best to shorten but leave the branches below that level on the tree until it becomes more mature. The food made by those side branches is used to make the trunk grow in diameter more quickly.
Most trees are healthiest with a single leader or trunk. If the tip of that leader is damaged or pruned, multiple trunks begin to develop. Keep the straightest one, and shorten or remove the others.
Keep an area around the base of young trees free from grass and weeds, and they will grow faster. Grass has fibrous roots that are very competitive for water and nutrients.
Apply general-purpose or lawn fertilizer each year in the spring. A 2-inch layer of bark dust mulch will suppress 90 percent of new weed sprouts.
Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening specialist. firstname.lastname@example.org