General Tree Pruning Tips

When, Where & How to Cut


By now, most spring-blooming trees and shrubs have flowered and are now turning green for the season. While it’s not an ideal time to do any major pruning on these plants, there’s still work to be done around your yard and garden. Here are some general tree pruning tips no matter what or when you cut.

General Tree Pruning Tips

Properly pruning plants is one of the most important maintenance tasks you have around your garden. When done correctly, your tree or shrub will grow healthy and strong. There’s also less of a chance it will become infested with pests or disease. All of this means less maintenance for you, but only if you pay attention to its pruning needs.

Knowing when and where to cut are two major factors to consider when it comes to pruning. Both depend on the type of plant and the area you live. Some general things to keep in mind:

When to cut:

  • Pruning promotes new growth, so only cut when the new buds have time to establish themselves before harsh weather. This means holding off in late summer or fall.
  • If the plant flowers before June, prune it shortly after flowering. If it blooms after, prune it in late winter or early spring before the buds appear.
  • Don’t prune when plants are wet. This could invite moisture-borne disease.

Where to cut:

  • Remove any hazardous branches first. Anything dead should be removed before it breaks off and causes damage.
  • Any branches growing toward the center of the plant should be removed next.
  • Remove any unwanted shoots growing directly from the root at the base of the tree.
  • If any shoots are growing straight up from dominant branches, these may be water sprouts that also need to be removed.
  • Dense growth prevents proper air circulation and light from getting in, killing the center branches. Thin out this growth and branches that cross each other.

How to prune:

  • Prune just above a growing point. This could be above a new bud, new branch, or at the soil line. Leaving a stub or stem could lead to poor healing and disease.
  • Trimming only the top will ruin the natural shape of the plant and only make it more susceptible to damage.
  • Overpruning can shock a plant, so try not to cut more than 30 percent at one time.
  • Always make clean cuts. Tearing a branch can lead to poor healing and disease.
  • Prune about once a year to help maintain the shape of the plant.

Professional Tree Pruning Tips

If you have one particular plant that needs extra attention, you may want to consult a professional to help plan its maintenance. A certified arborist can also help determine the best way to prune and shape the rest of your plants for optimal growth. Contact Elite Tree Care for more plant tips and general rules about pruning. A little maintenance now can mean a lifetime of plant health.

Tree Pruning Guide

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Learn how, when, and how much to trim or prune your trees to maximize their health and beauty. This guide covers the factors that go into tree trimming (pruning) and will help you make a more informed decision about hiring a professional tree service.