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I have four young (2-3 yrs) Honey Locust trees which seem to be doing very well this year. By that, I mean they've shown lots of growth and the leaves are very green and healthy.

The trunks of these young trees all have many new shoots of green leaves, and I wonder whether I should prune these off, or if it will be damaging to the tree.

I want them to grow tall, but also to provide ample shade. If I cut off the new lower branches, will it cause adverse effects?

I found this information:

In order to encourage your tree to branch out on top (to create a mushroom or umbrella style) you can remove the basal limbs. This will keep the base open and bare. You can also remove the top straggly limbs to encourage wide growth on top. (Source)

So, I think I should remove these lower new branches. If so, when would be the best time? If not, why?

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Generally speaking it is best to prune trees when they are dormant. That said you should always remove damaged or diseased limbs immediately (as soon as possible).

A very good rule of thumb is never to remove more than a ⅓ of the plant, shrub, tree bio-mass in one pruning season.

I would contact your local Extension office and ask them (different areas of the country will have slightly different advice, recommendations to follow, due to local/regional growing conditions).

Or one of these fine local institutions:

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