How to Trim and Prune Trees to Keep Them Healthy & Looking Clean

How to Trim and Prune Trees to Keep Them Healthy & Looking Clean

There are many questions that may come up when you start to trim trees with a pruning saw. This branch can you cut? Is there one you Trim and Prune Trees would like to cut? Is it the right time for pruning? What happens if there are too many branches to remove? You will be able to prune your trees with confidence and beautify your landscape by knowing the answers to all your queries.

Proper tree trimming and proper tree pruning techniques require both art and science. Once you understand the science behind the pruning, you will be able trust your intuition to recognize the artistic aspects of the job. Take a deep breath, then start cutting.

Tree trimming safety

Every situation requires a professional arborist to be considered. This will allow you to leave the difficult tasks to the experts with the right equipment and training.

  • Tree trimming near power lines
  • Remove large dead branches and dangling branches.
  • Large branches can be found near homes and buildings.

When is it best to prune trees

The best time to prune deciduous plants is late fall and early winter. Most evergreens should be lightly pruned in winter. The branches that are bare allow you to clearly see the tree’s structure. Avoid major pruning between January and March (most areas).

The oak tree beetle is active in the late spring and mid-summer. You should not prune oak trees during oak wilt.

If you see dead or diseased trees, prune them immediately. These branches can become more dangerous if they are not pruned in fall or winter. To prevent disease spreading, dip the pruning knife in a 10% bleach solution after each cut.

How to Cut Large Branchs

Three steps are the best way to get rid of large branches.

  • Cut the branch at 4-5 inches below the trunk.
  • Take the branch about 2-3 inches off the first cut. If the unsupported branch is causing it to fall, cut the initial section. This prevents the bark and roots from falling down.
  • Final cut: Remove any remaining stubs. Cut just outside of the branch collar. This is the slightly swelling area where the trunk and branch are joined.

Tips for Tree Pruning Challenges

Nature’s growth patterns, storm damage, or specific landscape needs can all create unique tree pruning challenges. These are the most common situations and how you can handle them.

Branching with V-Shape

Some trees have V-shaped junctures that form naturally. Although these branch arrangements can weaken the tree’s overall structure in some cases, they don’t always require corrective pruning.

Osage orange trees, native elms, hornbeams and serviceberries are usually strong enough or small sufficient that no corrective pruning is required for structural reasons, other than to remove any branches that may rub.

Other trees should be monitored closely, especially maples and flowering pears, ashes or willows. Early training is recommended to avoid structural problems when they grow bigger. V-shape junctures, which are very narrow, are vulnerable to wind and ice storm damage. Remove one of the stems as soon as the tree is young to prevent V-shapes.


Trees may send up new growth as a survival instinct. These stems that grow quickly can cause damage to the main tree. You can remove suckers from trees before they reach 6-12 feet in height by cutting them at the ground.

Avoiding suckers from trees is the best way of avoiding annual suckering problems. A reliable nursery or landscaper can be of great assistance.

Forked Trunks

Forked trunks can be less stable than a single tree trunk. They often grow in a single piece, which leaves a hollow cavity for insects and rot to further weaken the tree. The trunks may split or become brittle.

This can be prevented by removing one forked trunk while the tree still has life. Make sure to cut the stump as close to the ground as you can, and at an angle so that rainwater does not collect on the stump. You must not damage the bark of the trunk.

Clustered Branch

Too many branches can cause a tree to become weaker quickly. Smaller, weaker branches can limit the growth of larger branches. Excessive branches that are often found laterally will make it easier for the branches to receive more sunlight and air circulation. This is especially important for trees with multiple branches that grow at the same point on the trunk. It creates a weak area.


If a branch is damaged by wind or cut too far away from its tree joint, it will leave a stub. You should remove stubs as soon you see them. A stub is a preventative callus that seals the wound. It also provides insects with an entry point. When insects get in, moisture and rot may take control. Cut off the old stub without causing any damage to the callus tissue. This is necessary to close the wound.

Tree Wounds

A seal is not necessary for pruning cuts and broken branches. A wound that is allowed to heal will heal more quickly if it has room to breathe. Sometimes, dressings prevent the growth callus tissue (the swollen part) from growing and trap moisture which encourages rot.

Most arborists do not use tar-like wound dressings except for specific purposes. To discourage oak wilt from spreading, beetles might not be attracted to certain insecticidal dressings.

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