View Full Version : Need help with baby bradford

Envy Lawn Service
06-22-2006, 04:12 PM
Hey guys...

I have this account where I had a tree just sprout up in the mulch bed, wild I guess. Well, it looked like a bradford, so I let it be a while. The older it gets, the more it looks to me like a bradford. I'll include some pics...

Anyways, I've snipped some odd looking stuff off of it once. Just tried to shape it up a hair. Since then, and it's not been real long, new shoots have grown about 10" off to the sides of my pruning cuts. Now it is right about 5 feet tall.

I've never messed with trees like this that are this small and I was wondering if you nursery men could give me some pointers because I'm totally in the dark? I want to encourage a well shaped and strong tree. But I don't think I know how.


Envy Lawn Service
06-22-2006, 04:14 PM
Here is another to kind of show the shape it was.

Envy Lawn Service
06-22-2006, 04:16 PM
And from a different angle...

Envy Lawn Service
06-22-2006, 04:17 PM
Whew, that one was grainy... here's another...

06-22-2006, 08:43 PM
Envy, that's definitely a Bradford. I was told by a nursery guru a while back that your supposed to prune the vertical growing branches so that their at least 6"-12" shorter than the main vertical branch. If you have any branches tangling with each other or growing down or parallel to the ground they should be removed. The idea is to create a tree with 45-90 degree branches. You can make spacers to train the tree to grow the way you want it.


Envy Lawn Service
06-22-2006, 11:01 PM
Thanks Matt...

It had a large branch pretty close to the ground that got broken off somehow and I figured it wouldn't make it, but it has so far. It also has another pretty good sized branch coming off the lower trunk area that is growing up vertically. I thought about cutting it off also. But I've never encountered a Bradford at this age and I do not know how they grow to know how far up the trunk I should keep the branches removed, ect.

Do you know when it is best time of year to trim/thin/shape them at this young age?

06-24-2006, 01:32 AM
bradfords....lot of opinions on that tree....lwc gave ya good pruning advise.

bradfords will rarely make a strong tree...get big just where your gonna enjoy them and ice or snow storm will break em up....they're tearin em outta commercial areas wholesale up here...alot of nurseryman consider it a trash tree but the masses seem to like it....its a 50/50 chance weather it breaks up or not 10 years down the road .....jmho.

you can make small pruning cuts anytime(pencil size wood or a little bigger)
make larger structural cuts later between autumn to early spring. when you remove a whole branch suckering will happen(this needs to be thined) sometimes its better to remove branches in two cuts on proceeding years (remove half the first and to the branch collar the second year) ...this will keep most species from suckering so bad.

id pull it out and give em a sourwood(if its not real shady)......

06-25-2006, 02:49 PM
Envy, I agree with cancan on the pruning. Bradfords used to be used very heavily in my area because it's an inexpensive fast growing tree, provides good shade cover, fall color and spring blossoms. If not taken care of the branches get very heavy and you can lose large portions of your tree in 10-15years. There are trees that make it more than 25 years. I removed one Friday that was close to 30 years old. It fell during a heavy storm. 1/3 of the root system had grown under a driveway and rotted so it was only a matter of time until it fell. The whole tree uprooted and took part of the drive with it. Although it's not the strongest tree out there, I wouldn't remove it since it does give nice spring and fall color.

06-25-2006, 03:39 PM
Hurry, take some loppers and cut it off at the root! Don't let it grow any taller. lol

Envy Lawn Service
06-28-2006, 08:46 PM
OK, here is my snare on this...

As I said, I did a minor amount of quick trimming prior to posting this thread.
Just a little shaping is all.

The main vertical branch/trunk had an ugly crook in it, so I snipped it off just below there.

Now, everything seems fine with the tree.
In fact, the little bugger has grown more than 10" past the crops I made on it.

The trouble is, it has grown these 10" shoots out from my crops. Like one shoot off the side of the old crop. Well, some of the shoots are growing down, or parrallel to the ground. This is also true for the shoot off the top crop. The actual top where I cropped it off below the crook is producing nothing. But there is a 10" angular upright shoot off one side of the main beam crop.

So I think I might have really screwed up by cropping the top like that. Now I have that angular shoot on the top that likely will need cutting off also. Errrr...

07-07-2006, 09:28 AM
The Age and thickness of this tree could be a problem. Trees and other plants grow by a process called geotropism which means they grow towards the sun and are also affected by gravety. If the shoots are growing down and parralell the problem is the tree is too thick and it has no sunlight to grow towards. The branches that are growing out are trying to find the sunlight and the ones growing down are being pulled there by gravety. I would thin the tree out in the fall to Early Spring to filter sunlight through there and see if that works. This would be my guess knowing the age of the tree and knowing most bradford owners this tree is not well maintained.

07-07-2006, 10:34 AM
If you lopped off the main vertical branch the tree will throw up water sprouts in attempt to compensate near or at the cut. Other cuts will produce the sprouts as well. They are typically weak wooded branches and should be pruned before they establish. Should never prune more then 25% of the tree at any one time. Not sure where you are located however the bottom branches are there to protect the trunk from sunburn, be selective about how much you remove from that area but eventually you will want to force the branching up and off the bottom of the trunk

Always remove cross branches, always remove branches growing towards the interior of the tree, always remove dead wood. The art of directing future growth depends on the where you make your cut on the branch. Concentrate on vertical branches that are 90 degress to the trunk or more.

07-07-2006, 11:37 AM
again too many good trees to use to try and save a bradford....dogwood, sourwood, crapemyrtle....the list of good replacements is long ....give em something they'll enjoy......stewartia would be a great one....in my book anyway.

Envy Lawn Service
07-08-2006, 01:00 AM
Well this tree is still real small, smaller than I've previously encountered.
It's around 5 ft tall is all.

It came up wild in a bed area.
It's a bradford or cleveland or one in that family.
I can't tell them apart really except I can pick out the Bradfords as they mature.

The property owner wants to keep it, shape it up and attempt to transplant/relocate it at some point.

07-09-2006, 10:27 AM
better move it now then.....