Tips for a Successful Tree Pruning

We all know that trees provide a valuable service. They clean our air and water, produce oxygen, and can even help protect against soil erosion. But it’s not always easy to keep them healthy without the correct knowledge of how to prune them properly. That’s why we have created this blog post to give you some tips on how to do just that! 

In order to maintain your tree in good shape for as long as possible, it is important to trim off any excess branches from time to time. This will allow the remaining branches more access to sunlight and nutrients, which they need in order to grow stronger and healthier.

Tree pruning can be a difficult task to take on. Many aspects need to be considered when determining the best way to trim them down. The shape of the tree, the location in which it is, and how much time you have for this project are all important factors in deciding what needs done with your trees. 

We will discuss these things in more detail below so you can decide if tree pruning is something you want to do yourself or hire someone else to do it for you! We’ll start off by discussing some tips on how best to approach trimming your trees based on their shape and size.

How to Prune Trees to Keep Them Healthy and Looking Tidy

Learn how to prune your trees the right way and at the right time of year to add beauty and longevity. Make sure you’re making the right cuts safely and effectively.

ree trimming has a way of stopping pruning newbies in their tracks. Frozen with a pruning saw in hand and eyeing up the tree in question, a host of questions begins running through your mind. Cut this branch? What about that one? Is this the right time to prune? What if I remove too many branches? 

Get the answers to all your questions so you’ll have the confidence to add longevity to your trees and beauty to your landscape through smart pruning. Proper pruning technique is part art and part science. Once you know some of the science behind it, you can trust your eye for the artistic elements of pruning. Then, take a deep breath and start making your cuts.

Tree Trimming Safety

Approach every pruning situation by assessing the need for a professional arborist. Then, leave these tasks to the professionals who have both the equipment and advanced training for tricky pruning jobs.

When to Prune Trees

Late fall, after trees, have shed their leaves, and early winter is a great time to prune. The bare branches allow you to see the tree structure clearly. Avoid major pruning during “maple sugar time” (January through early March in most areas). 

Beetles that infect oak trees are active from late spring through midsummer. Therefore, if oak wilt is present in your region, don’t prune your oaks during this period.

Prune away dead or diseased branches whenever you notice them. Waiting until fall or winter to prune these branches could cause further tree damage or infection in the case of diseased branches. (When pruning diseased branches, dip the pruning blade in a 10 percent bleach solution between each cut to avoid spreading disease.)

How to Cut Large Branches

Large branches are best removed in three steps:

  • Make a shallow cut on the underside of the branch, about 4-5 inches from the trunk.
  • Cut the branch off about 2-3 inches from the initial cut. When the weight of the unsupported branch causes it to fall, the initial cut keeps the bark from peeling down the side of the trunk.
  • Make the final cut, removing the remaining stub. Make this cut just outside the branch collar: the slightly swollen area where the branch and trunk are joined together.

Game Plans for Pruning Challenges

Natural growth patterns, storm damage, and specific landscape needs can serve up unique pruning challenges. So first, find the situation that best describes your tree and sharpen your saw. Then, it’s time to get to work!

V-Shape Branching

Some trees naturally form narrow, V-shaped junctures. While these narrow branch arrangements sometimes weaken the tree’s overall structure, not all require corrective pruning. 

For example, native elms, hornbeams, serviceberries, hickories, and Osage orange trees are generally strong enough or small enough that little corrective pruning is needed for structural purposes, except to remove crossing branches that might rub.

Other trees, particularly maples, flowering pears, ashes, and willows and basswoods, should be watched closely and given early training, so they avoid structural problems as they grow larger. 

Narrow, V-shape junctures are inherently weak and are subject to breaking off in wind or ice storms. To prevent V-shapes from causing problems, remove one of the stems while the tree is young.

The following is a list of trees that tend to form V-shape junctures:

  • Basswoods (Tilia spp.)
  • Elms (Ulmus spp.)
  • Flowering pears (Pyrus calleryana)
  • Hackberries (Celtis spp.)
  • Hornbeams (Ostrya spp. and Carpinus spp.)
  • Locusts (Gleditsia spp. and Robinia spp.)
  • Mulberries (Morus spp.)
  • Osage oranges (Maclura pomifera)
  • Redbuds (Cercis spp.)
  • Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.)
  • Some ashes (Fraxinus spp.)
  • Some hickories (e.g., Carya cordiformis)
  • Some maples (e.g., Acer saccharum, A. saccharinum)
  • Willows (Salix spp.)
  • Zelkova (Zelkova spp.)



As a survival instinct, some trees send up new shoots from the ground. These fast-growing stems can weaken the main tree in time. Remove suckers before they are 6 to 12 inches tall by cutting them off at ground level. The best way to avoid annual suckering challenges is to avoid planting trees that commonly produce suckers. A reputable nursery or landscaper will be a great help.

Forked Trunks

Forked trunks are less stable than a single trunk and often grow together, leaving a hollow cavity where insects and rot can further weaken the tree. The tree will eventually split, or one of the trunks will break off.

To prevent this, remove one of the forked trunks while the tree is still young. Cut as close to ground level as possible, making the cut at a slight angle, so rainwater drains off the stump. Take care not to damage the bark on the remaining trunk.

Clustered Branches

Too many branches bunched together can quickly weaken a tree. Small, weak branches limit the development of larger branches. Removing excessive branches, often growing laterally, will give the remaining branches better air circulation and sunlight. This is especially important with trees that tend to form multiple branches at a single point on the trunk, creating a weak zone.


A stub remains when a branch breaks off in the wind or is cut too far from where it joins the tree. Remove stubs as soon as they are noticed. A stub prevents a protective callus from closing the wound and provides insects with an entry point. Once insects make inroads, moisture and rot can take over. When cutting off an old stub, avoid cutting into the swollen callus tissue forming near the trunk. It’s needed to seal the wound.

Tree Wounds

You don’t have to apply a seal over pruning cuts or broken branches. Allowing a wound to breathe is the best way for it to heal faster. In addition, dressings sometimes prevent the growth of callus tissue (the swollen area) and may trap moisture that encourages rot.

Most arborists now use tarlike wound dressings only for special purposes. Some insecticidal wound applications might be used, for example, to discourage beetles from visiting and possibly spreading oak wilt disease.

Tree Pruning Safety Tips

Pruning and trimming trees are not like levelling hedges or snipping shrubs down. Trees are much more challenging to keep, and their branches frequently pose a hazard to the untrained who attempt to cut them down.

The best tool to maintain your plants that are dormant in check are pole saws, and many places require users to enrol in a government-sponsored course or get a license or license to operate one.

Pole saws are not toys. But, if managed correctly, pole saws are convenient, dependable machines for clearing hardy branches. If you’re new to the operation of a pole saw, here are a few tips and tricks to ensure appropriate usage.

  • Read the manual. The most elementary thing you could do is to read. Within the user manual, you need to find all the things you need to know more about technical specs, tool procedures, and safety measures. Next, read and heed the safety warnings, and labels that could be about the guide, on the box, or on the pole saw itself.
  • Wear the correct gear. Make certain that you have the proper protective gear. From top to bottom, you should wear: a helmet, safety goggles, respirator or facial mask, work gloves, boots with good traction, thick pants and maybe even leg chaps. Do not forget to take off all portions of jewellery and tie your hair up if it is long.
  • Use properly. Pole saws are designed for one purpose and one goal only: to cut and prune tree limbs. Do not use a pole saw to cut on bushes, shrubs, trees and plants. There are tools and machines.
  • Check the conditions. Inspect the place for any obstacles. As you can’t run a pole, seeing if it’s dark, windy, or rainy, assessing the day’s weather prediction may come in handy.
  • Inspect the condition of the trees you want to prune or cut — dead or dying branches, wood rot, and the cutting can impact and even pose a danger.
  • Check the pole saw. Make sure your pole saw is before using it in working order. Next, see if the chain is oiled and if it’s any lost or worn out teeth. Next, check for damage to the sprocket and guide bar. Lastly, try running the safety features of the unit to see whether they are functional.
  • Clear the area. Maintain a security exclusion zone using a perimeter of 50 ft in all directions. Don’t operate the pole saw if there are any bystanders, children, and pets nearby. If possible, have another individual guard from entering this zone this perimeter to stop people and creatures.
  • Keep it upright. Try to keep the rod saw as upright as possible. The machines can be too difficult to handle at an angle that is parallel to the floor. The pole saw will be manageable the longer vertical it is. Use a tap to spread the program’s weight away from the arms.
  • Do not cut above you. Branches shouldn’t ever cut directly overhead, even when you’re an experienced pole saw operator. Do some training and acquaint yourself with the methods for reducing weight. A wrong move, and you could be crushed by the falling limb. Also, stay away from the branch you are pruning or cutting.
  • Firm footing. Keep a good, firm base, with both feet planted and balanced. Both feet must stay on the ground in any way times. For example, use both hands when operating a pole saw, never with one hand.

When to Prune Trees and Cut Trees?

Generally, pruning trees during early Spring is preferred. According to experts, this is the time when the plants are entering the stage of rapid growth. Therefore, wounds afflicted by pruning will rapidly be healed. 

Remember, here we refer to pruning trees for growth and not to avoid diseased or damaged plants. For the latter, you can always prune trees whenever you want, whether it is Spring or Autumn. Here are some great tips on How To Prune Trees And Shrubs.

Cutting Trees And Pruning Trees During Spring And Late Winter

In order to provide sunlight to shrubs and grass, it is best to prune the trees during early Spring or late Winter. During Spring, heavy pruning can weaken the tree, pushing the tree to consume the stored food for regrowing. Similarly, heavy pruning should also be avoided during late Summer. Again, heavy pruning during late Summer can give rise to lush growth.

Reasons to Trim or Prune a Tree


Trees are generally trimmed for one of three purposes: aesthetics, safety or health. For example:

  • Aesthetics Pruning a tree effectively helps to maintain its shape and appearance. However, you shouldn’t try to impose an unnatural shape or size on a tree. The amount of trimming and pruning that will be needed could seriously damage it.
  • Safety – Dead or broken branches and limbs can fall off at any time, which is a serious safety hazard. In addition, if the branches of a tree obstruct your vision while driving, they should be trimmed away. Finally, tree limbs and branches occasionally grow too close to utility lines. Contact the utility company to handle such issues.
  • Health – It is sometimes possible to save an infected tree by strategically pruning away affected branches and limbs. Thinning the crown of a tree improves airflow, which can be very beneficial. If branches are crossing or rubbing together, they should be trimmed or removed so that they don’t fall unexpectedly.

General Tree Trimming Tips

  • It’s almost always best to trim or prune a tree during its dormant season. Although you can technically prune a pine tree at any time, it is still better to do so when it is dormant. The only exception is when a hazard exists.
  • Be conscientious about the size of the branch that you are going to remove. If it is less than five centimetres in diameter, removing it is fine. If it is between five and 10 centimetres in diameter, you might not want to do it. If it is more than 10 centimetres in diameter, you should only do so if you have a really good reason.
  • Only trim branches that have weak, V-shaped, narrow angles. Retain branches that have strong, U-shaped angles.
  • >Lateral branches should be between one-half and three-quarters the diameter of the stem at the point of attachment. Otherwise, they should be removed.
  • When pruning is complete, the ratio of living crown to tree height should be two-thirds.
  • Try to prune away branches when they are young. They are much easier to manage at that point, and the risk of leaving nasty scars is much lower.
  • Don’t trim a branch too close or too long. You shouldn’t leave a large stub or remove the branch collar.

Tree Pruning Tips

The following tips and techniques will help guide you if you’re planning on pruning a tree or if you just want to educate yourself about typical tree trimming care and maintenance techniques.

If you need to thin the crown of a tree, you should keep the following tips and techniques in mind:

  • Keep lateral branches as evenly spaced as possible, especially on young trees.
  • Prune away branches that cross other branches or run against them.
  • Never remove more than one-fourth of a living crown at once. If you need to remove more than that, spread it out over a number of years.
  • To provide clearance for pedestrians and for other reasons, you can raise the crown by carefully pruning the tree. Maintain live branches on at least two-thirds of a tree’s height. If you remove too many branches near the bottom half, the tree may not be able to develop a strong stem.
  • If you need to remove more than half of the foliage from a branch, just remove the whole branch.
  • Only reduce the crown of a tree if it’s really necessary. For example, prune lateral branches that are at least one-third of the stem’s diameter need to be removed.

Tree Trimming Techniques

  • Before making a cut, look for the branch collar, which grows from the stem tissue at the bottom base of the branch. Next, look for the branch ridge on the upper surface and is parallel to the branch angle at the stem.
  • Always cut outside the branch bark ridge and angle your cut down and away from the stem. Take care not to injure the branch collar.
  • Use the same technique to prune dead branches and living branches.
  • If a stem is too long, use the three-cut technique: Make a notch on the side of the stem that faces away from the branch that’s being retained; make the second cut inside the crotch of the branch and above the branch ridge; the third cut will remove the stub by cutting through the stem parallel to the branch bark ridge.

Keep these tricks and techniques from this tree pruning guide in mind before taking on the task of pruning and trimming your trees.

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