A newly planted tree holds a lot of potential, but the potential can be lost if the tree isn't properly trimmed and tended to for the first few years after. Pruning to train the trunk is best done in late winter when the tree is still dormant. Here are a few things that will help ensure healthy trunk growth.
1. Remove the Competition
Most trees should only have one leader or main trunk. When a tree is young, several of the more upright branches may compete to be the leader. If the weaker ones aren't trimmed out, then you end up with a multi-trunk tree that is more shrub-like and more prone to splitting. Your tree service will choose the strongest and straightest candidate as the new trunk and the rest of the competition will be pruned out.
2. Clean Up the Trunk
It's not uncommon for a tree to produce a bunch of weak branches low down on the trunk. These scraggly branches do more than look bad, they also lead to a low crown that one can't walk beneath. Trimming off these weak branches will lift the crown and also make it look fuller. Further, resources like water and nutrients will be taken to the healthier branches above instead of being wasted on the unwanted weak growth lower on the trunk.
3. Prevent the Lean
Leans should be corrected when a tree is young, as it can be nearly impossible to straighten a trunk once the tree approaches maturity. Sometimes the fix is as simple as properly staking the trunk until the tree is more mature and better anchored by the root system. In other cases, a trim may also be necessary, such as if there is heavier growth on one side of the crown that is causing uneven weight distribution that leads to a leaning trunk.
4. Manage Sucker Growth
If you notice weak, whip-like stems growing up from the base of the trunk, then you have a sucker problem. Some tree varieties are more prone to suckering, while others will produce suckers if there is a buried grafting point on the trunk. Your tree service can prune away the suckers each year and take care of any health stresses that are leading to sucker production, such as lifting the tree so the grafting scar isn't buried.
To learn more about tree services, contact a company like Custom Tree Surgeons.