Houseplants

Chestnut tree cutting - Instructions & Tips

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The chestnut tree can, but does not have to be pruned. However, if you want to carry out this maintenance measure, there are a few things you need to do, otherwise the chestnut could be infected by a fungus.

© luciezr - Fotolia.com

Chestnuts (Castanea) are for many a beautiful memory of their own childhood. And those who have children today are happy to pass this memory on. Then in autumn the fallen red fruits of the classic horse chestnut, as we find them in abundance in Germany, are collected and then they are made at home. In fact, a lot of beautiful and interesting figures can be created with these chestnuts. Chestnut necklaces, decorative items and much more are created if you let nimble children's hands tinker with them. A happy glow in the children's eyes included. But chestnuts are not just good for handicrafts. Owners of a large garden also love chestnut trees because of the expansive shade that they donate in the hot season.

However, you should definitely note that chestnuts achieve a handsome growth. Depending on the variety you choose, your chestnut can reach a height of around 35 meters in the end. Even the smaller varieties grow at least 10 meters tall. In addition, there are strong roots that spread in all directions in the ground, and just a very wide tree top. In smaller gardens or even in a front yard, chestnut trees are simply out of place. You should also avoid direct proximity to buildings or garages when choosing the location for planting.

This is the chestnut - a brief overview

The chestnut is a deciduous tree that is native to Asia, Europe and North America. There are two large types of chestnuts - the horse chestnut and the sweet chestnut or sweet chestnut. Both species have several 100 subspecies, of which one can also meet different ones in Germany. The stature height can be up to 35 meters. The biggest difference between the sweet chestnut and the horse chestnut lies, apart from the leaves of the trees, in the fruit. While the sweet chestnut, also called chestnut, is a delicacy in some parts of Europe and can be distorted when roasted, the horse chestnut is inedible and can lead to nausea, dizziness and other symptoms of poisoning if you eat it.

Pruning chestnuts - necessary or not?

It is like so often when you ask experts about a certain topic - often get different opinions. The same applies to the question of whether you should prune chestnut trees or not. Some say that a regular cut is necessary so that the chestnut can grow quickly and with sufficient strength. Others point out that the chestnut is particularly prone to pests and diseases, especially in the areas where it is pruned. In fact, both references are justified. Cut edges, especially on the main trunk, can lead to an infestation with various diseases - however, a regular, targeted and sensible cut leads to healthy growth because the forces of the tree are not wasted on weak and almost dead branches.

Beware of fungal attack
However, one must also note that the horse chestnut, in particular, is very difficult to cope with the "wounds" of a cut. It takes a while for a protective film to form at open interfaces to protect the tree from fungal attack or internal rot. However, this problem can be avoided by, for example, cutting in the right season. A chestnut should always be cut between November and February, at the beginning of March at the latest. The temperatures should not exceed 4 degrees Celsius in the first time after the cut. This measure alone protects the tree from fungal attack at the cut places, because at these temperatures fungi cannot spread accordingly.

However, experts recommend a more radical pruning, especially for young trees that grow very slowly, in order to force the growth of the tree and to bundle the forces of the still young tree. When a chestnut has survived the first few years, it is ultimately a question of whether you want your chestnut to grow, how it would grow in nature, or whether you prune it regularly.

Cuts back - that's important to note

If you have decided not to just let your chestnut tree grow, but to take into account the fact that chestnut is now a cultivated plant and therefore needs a higher level of care than most wild plants, there are still a few points to be considered note. In addition to the right season for a cut, you should start making the necessary cuts regularly as early as possible. Because if you make cuts at a young age, the branches that you cut have a much smaller diameter than if you only make a first cut after 10 or more years. In this case, the branch diameter can already be well over 5 cm - this means that the attack surfaces for a possible fungal attack are significantly enlarged and the risk of disease of the tree increases.

In addition, chestnut trees that are pruned regularly right from the start only need clearing cuts later - that is, only the branches that disturb further growth have to be cut away. The bigger the tree, the lower the need for cutting, since the tree structure was well developed and designed at a young age.

How to properly cut a chestnut tree

There are two different cuts when cutting a chestnut tree. First the cleansing cut and the other the crown cut. Here is some more information about the two types of cuts:

❍ The clean cut

The cleansing cut is also part of the crown cut, but can and should be carried out every two years independently of the crown cut. The most important thing is the maintenance and cleaning of the base to keep it healthy and strong. During the cleaning cut, water veins and stick rashes are removed. Driven rashes from the pad should also be removed as part of a clean cut. Branches affected by pests or diseases must also be removed as part of the cleaning cut, right back to the healthy wood.

❍ The crown cut

The crown cut serves to stabilize young trees and revitalize older trees. In the course of the first 20 years, crown cuts with a certain regularity are necessary to ensure strong and healthy scaffolding growth of the tree. The crown cut includes the following steps:

❶ Clean cut
❷ Stabilization of the trunk axes - For this purpose, heavily inflated trunk axes must be stabilized by sometimes shortening them very sharply
❸ The same procedure should be followed with widely spreading side branches
❹ Drifting water veins left behind in the cleaning cut are to be removed
❺ vertical shoots must be cut away
❻ Crown parts and side branches with little vitality must be shortened so that they do not unnecessarily deplete strength and nutrients
❼ Dead branches and damaged branches are cut back to the healthy wood

Only a strong and healthy scaffold remains - all unnecessary shoots, branches and crown parts of the tree are removed. Such a cut naturally leaves a large number of wounds and cut surfaces on the tree. As mentioned, chestnut trees are rather sensitive to such wounds and cut edges. For this reason, it makes sense, especially after a crown cut, to coat the cut surfaces with finishing ointment or a wound closure agent for chestnut trees, such as this one.

Key facts at a glance

NoteTo be noted
Start earlyThe more regularly you make the necessary cuts at a young age, the smaller the wounds and the less the need for pruning, even with older trees
Cut especially with weak growthIn young trees, a radical pruning with weak growth leads to a significant improvement in growth
Chestnuts are very sensitive to woundsFor this reason, chestnuts should only be cut between November and February - the outside temperature should not be above 4 degrees Celsius and the cut surfaces should then be treated with an appropriate agent.
In case of illness, a cut is essentialEspecially if your chestnut tree is affected by a disease, you should definitely remove the sick and dead wood from the tree to prevent further infection
Crown cutting only necessary up to 20 yearsA crown cut is usually only made in the course of the first 20 years of a chestnut tree - afterwards a regular cleansing cut is enough (every two - three years)

Even if chestnut trees are more sensitive than other tree species when it comes to cutting, a regular cut with appropriate post-treatment of the cut should not be omitted. Because if you carry out the cut correctly and then treat the tree wounds accordingly, there is only a very small risk that your chestnut tree will fall ill or be infected by pests due to the cut. The growth and development of your tree is significantly improved by proper and regular cuts.

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