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Tree Pruning
Home  > Tree Care  > Tree Pruning

There are many reasons that trees should be pruned and trees benefit from tree pruning in many ways. Maintained landscape trees will look nice, be healthy, and enhance and add to beauty of your landscape.

The frequency of tree pruning can vary depending on the tree species and where the tree is planted. Some trees, like Pine trees or Spruce trees, may rarely require tree pruning. Other species, such as Crabapple trees, may need tree pruning every two or three years. Consideration may need to be given to the location of the tree. A business that has a Crabapple in front may have their local tree service prune it every year, whereas a Crabapple tree in the back corner of a residential landscape can get by with a tree pruning cycle of every three or four years.

flush cut

Improper pruning technique known as “flush cut”

tree pruning
flush cut pruning
tree pruning proper Proper tree pruning cut

Proper pruning cuts

Reasons to have tree pruning done

  • Remove excess interior tree branches.
  • Clear tree branches from a house.
  • Remove low tree branches for vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
  • Cut tree branches back from a driveway.
  • Clear tree branches from a building.
  • Prune tree branches to create a scenic view.
  • Trim tree branches away from a sidewalk.
  • Prune dead tree branches.
  • Remove broken tree branches.

Benefits of tree pruning

  • Reduce possible storm damage by removing excess interior tree branches.
  • Improve traffic or pedestrian flow around trees or under trees.
  • Improve view of traffic or business signs.
  • Increase health of trees by removing diseased branches.
  • Increase safety of trees by removing large dead braches or weak or broken branches.
  • Improve growing conditions for landscape shrubs or grass.
  • Create tidy and well kept appearance of landscape.
  • Reduce level of leaf diseases by increasing the air flow throughout the tree canopy.

Questions to ask when contracting a tree pruning job

  • How much tree pruning is going to be done? Is the arborist or tree service only going to remove a few low branches, or will they be removing a certain percentage of the excess interior tree branches?
  • Does the tree pruning cost include disposal of the tree branches?
  • If large branches are being removed will the tree service take away the wood that is too large to grind up in the brush chipper?
  • Is there a cost difference if the tree service leaves the wood?
  • Does the arborist or tree service have the proper liability insurance coverage and workman’s compensation insurance in the unlikely event something goes wrong?
  • Will heavy equipment need to be driven on lawn or hardscape areas to access trees?
  • Is it okay to prune all your trees during the growing season or should certain tree species be scheduled for tree pruning when they are dormant?

Here are some commonly used Tree Pruning Tools.






Most trees can be pruned any time of the year. There are exceptions to this in various parts of the country and an arborist or local tree service will be able to advise you if this is a concern. In Minnesota and Texas, for example, pruning Oak trees during the dormant season will minimize the transmission of Oak Wilt disease. This is only one example of how it can be beneficial to consult with a local arborist or tree service about tree pruning.

Homeowners sometimes express concerns when tree pruning is done on Maple trees in the late winter because there can be bleeding (sap flow) of the tree wounds. This rarely causes significant harm to Maple trees. In fact, harvesting large amounts of sap from Maple trees is how we get maple syrup and the same Maple trees in are tapped each year.

Correct tree pruning involves cutting the tree branch properly and at the right spot on the branch. Cutting too close to the tree trunk exposes the tree trunk to potential decay. If the cut is too far out on the tree branch then wound closure may be delayed to the point where decay can enter the tree trunk. A Certified Arborist will know to prune the tree branch at the branch collar.

When an arborist performs tree pruning he/she considers the current form of the tree and the natural way the tree grows. If the arborist works with the natural form of the tree then it will take more than a passing glance to even tell that any tree pruning has been done to the tree.

An arborist that prunes a small tree is setting up the future branch structure of the tree. This is an important step in the correct development and health of the tree. Scaffold branches can be spaced at a distance that will allow the tree to develop healthy growth and may minimize the need for more severe tree pruning in the future.

When it comes to pruning large trees it is usually better to contact your local tree service and hire a professional arborist. The arborist that works for the tree service has the necessary tree pruning equipment to handle large tree pruning. Pruning large trees usually requires tree climbing ropes and safety saddles or bucket trucks - commonly called cherry pickers. Large tree pruning often means larger dead branches will be pruned from the tree. A local tree service will have brush chippers to dispose of tree branches generated from tree pruning.

Numerous research studies have been done on trees regarding the need to paint tree wounds. The most current research on painting tree wounds indicates that not only is it not necessary, but it may even promote decay of tree wounds. A light coating of paint can be done on large tree wounds for the sake of appearance, but heavy tree wound tar isn’t recommended.

As you can see, there are many reasons to hire, or at least consult with, a professional arborist or your local tree service when considering having tree pruning done to your landscape trees. A poor, or incorrect, tree pruning job can ruin a tree or may require years for the tree to recover and regain its natural form and beauty.

When you meet with an arborist or arrange with a local tree service to have tree pruning done the terms of the tree pruning work should be in writing. The price of the tree pruning job should not be your only consideration. Don’t assume that every tree service that gives you a price for tree pruning has the same end result in mind. If the specifics of the job are put in writing then there will be no surprises when it is time to pay for the tree pruning work that was done.

The appearance most landscapes can be improved by periodic tree pruning. Consulting with an arborist or your local tree service can be beneficial in deciding if, and when, you should schedule tree pruning on your landscape trees.

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