Tree Pruning: Everything You Need To Know

Tree Pruning & How To Do It

Have you ever thought of pruning your trees? Maybe you saw that the branches are becoming a tad overgrown and thought you could handle it on your own. In a statement  piece from the University of Minnesota, “pruning is a horticultural practice that alters the form and growth of a plant.” Aside from branch pruning, pruning the roots of your trees in also a great way of maintaining your tree’s health.

Pruning can also be considered one of the most important things you can do for preventive maintenance. Keep in mind that many problems can be prevented with the correct pruning techniques during the formative years for a tree or shrub. Keep reading as we delve deeper into the facts of pruning.

When To Start Pruning

In order to develop a strong tree structure, it’s critical for a young tree to be pruned early on in its life. A young tree that hasn’t been pruned properly may require more significant maintenance to remove larger branches as the tree is more developed. When you plant the tree, be sure to remove only branches that are diseased, dead, or broken. Here are some other tips to consider:

  • Prune to shape the tree to your liking.
  • Remove any converging branches, as well as branches that grow back toward the tree’s center.
  • As the tree matures, gradually remove lower branches to raise the foliage and remove branches that are spaced too closely on the trunk.

Pruning Large Branches

Many homeowners aren’t quite sure how to handle pruning large branches. Be aware that rushing through and making careless cuts can spell disaster for the tree. With that in mind, here are some best practices we’ve gathered for pruning large branches:

  • Avoid tearing the bark – Three or four cuts will be necessary to do this. Ideally, make the first cut on the underside of the branch about 18 inches from the trunk. Then undercut up to halfway through the branch. The second cut should be made an inch further out on the branch. Remember to cut until the branch breaks free.
  • Identify the branch collar – You could be thinking, “What in the world is a branch collar?” Well, it grows from the stem tissue around the base of the branch. Before making the final cut to sever a branch from the main stem, it’s imperative that you locate the branch collar. If it’s left intact after you’re done pruning, the wound will seal more effectively and there’s a good chance the stem tissue will probably not decay.
  • Cut down and through the branch – The third cut should be all about severing the branch. If you feel as though there’s a chance you may tear the bark on the branch underside, make an undercut first, and then saw through the branch.
  • Dress wounds accordingly – Tree care experts agree that wound dressing is usually not necessary on pruning cuts. However, if you want to protect the wounds from potential insect transmission of certain diseases, opt for latex as opposed to oil-based paint.

Essential Pruning Tools

Now that you know when to start pruning your tree and how to properly handle large branches, it’s time to dive into tools. It’s almost guaranteed that a pruning job done without the right tools will go awry. Here are a few must-haves before getting started:


  • Pruning shears 
  • Lopping shears
  • Hedge shears
  • Hand saws
  • Pole saws



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