Mesquite trees are fast-growing trees. In the presence of sufficient water, they grow quite fast and could become bushy and untamed. To tame, manage, and keep mesquite in shape, regular pruning is a must. Mesquite with overgrown foliage can split into two or fall over. Overly bushy foliage overweighs the stem-root system. It is therefore important that homeowners with any specie of Mesquite in their yard learn when and how to trim the tree to avoid damage of property by preventing it from falling over.
Before trimming any tree, it is important to understand the growth pattern and period of dormancy. The mesquite is no exemption. The various species of mesquite trees are similar yet different. It is therefore important to understand the peculiarities of the specie on your property before attempting to trim.
The honey mesquite tree, for example, has a fascinating growth pattern. It has a spreading, rounded canopy containing branches that are randomly twisted and slightly drooping. This keeps the root cool and reduces water evaporation from the soil. It also provides organic mulch if dropping leaves are not removed. This helps to further preserve soil water content. Mesquite naturally have a multi trunk system. Pruning of mesquite to a single leader trunk system, is dangerous and not advisable. Pruning should be done with reference to the natural structure of the tree.
Since most mesquites have strong sharp spines, it is very important that before you attempt to trim you are fully protected. Wear long pants and sleeves. The use of thick protective gloves is a must. Cut off crossing and vertical branches. Avoid trimming young trees except to remove damaged or dead branches. For the first two years of life, trimming should only be done to remove weak or dead branches. Newly transplanted mesquites should be watered. This makes tree development faster and stronger. For mature trees, watering is not needed. This slows down growth and makes mesquites more manageable.
Mesquites are drought resistant and are commonly found in arid and semi-arid regions. They thrive well in well-drained soil types and abundant sunlight. Hence, mesquites should not be grown in shady areas. Add coarse and fast-draining soil to soils with high water retention which tends to be soggy. Mesquites are found in deserts.
When to prune
For mature mesquites, it is better for the tree’s health to prune when dormant. Mesquites are dormant in the winter. It is advisable to prune after the harsh cold has passed. This leads to new improved growth during spring. Remove weak, diseased, damaged or dead branches as soon as you notice them irrespective of the time of the year. This prevents further injury to the tree.
Proper pruning practice
Use anvil shears for small to medium-sized branches. Use pruning saws for larger branches. All pruning tools should be well sharpened to avoid further injuries to the tree. Branches should be cut close to points of attachment with the trunk (origin), leaving collars. Do not leave stubs. Before, amidst and after pruning disinfect shears and saw with a solution of bleach and water in the ratio 1 to 3. This prevents the spread of diseases.
Remove crossing branches and branches that compress other branches. Remove branches that don’t contribute to the structure of the tree (wayward branches). Vertically parallel branches that grow away from other branches should be removed. This thins the crown and allows for air and sunlight penetration. For very dense trees, reduce foliage. Trim long branches to its lateral branch. Trim 25% of total foliage at once. Trimming more than 25% affects the photosynthetic rate of the tree.
For tress at the risk of falling call a professional. Learn more about the benefits of trimming your trees.