Trimming and pruning trees is beneficial for several reasons: it removes diseased and dead branches, promoting better health and longevity for the tree; it removes potentially dangerous branches that could fall and cause injury; and it improves the overall appearance and aesthetics of the tree.
Prune During Dormancy
A good rule of thumb is to only prune a tree when it’s dormant. This reduces stress while preserving the tree’s health. If a tree becomes dormant during fall and winter, you should prune it during these months and not the spring or summer. Or if the tree becomes dormant in summer, you should prune it during the summer.
Prune ‘Young’ Branches
It’s recommended that you prune young branches that just recently emerged and not old, aged branches. Removing these branches will cause less stress to the tree. Furthermore, you’ll find they are thinner and easier to remove than older branches.
Clean Pruning Shears Beforehand
Before pruning a tree, pour a small amount of rubber alcohol over your shears. Doing so kills germs while ensuring your shears are clean and pathogen-free. Failure to clean your shears beforehand could result in disease-causing germs reaching exposed areas of your tree – and that’s never a good thing.
Less is More
When pruning a tree, it’s a good idea to follow the mantra “less is more.” In other words, don’t go pruning away half of your tree’s branches/canopy. Excessive pruning can send trees into shock, causing their growth to slow while making them more susceptible to disease in the process. If you start small, however, you can prune away a few branches at a time without causing severe stress and shock to the tree.
Cut at an Angle
Don’t make the mistake of cutting the branch straight, as this further stresses the tree. Instead, you should cut outside of the branch bark at a 90-degree angle for maximum effectiveness. This protects the branch collar from injury, promoting a faster healing time for the tree.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re worried about injuring your tree, you can always seek professional help. The Woodsman Tree Care Company will gladly prune and perform other work on trees for you.
These are just a few tips to follow when pruning a tree.
The Woodsman Company offers tree planting, tree pruning and shrub trimming, tree removal and stump grinding as well as a tree wellness program.
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or
I had no idea that is was best to prune a tree while it was dormant in order to reduce the tree’s stress and preserve its health. Now that it is spring, is it too late to do any pruning? I have a couple of trees in my yard that are in need of trimming, but I don’t want to damage them. Would a professional be better suited to determine whether or not they can still be pruned?
Ken Partain says
Hi John – It’s not too late to prune your trees. Just make sure you don’t take too much off. If you feel more comfortable having a professional take care of it I’m sure you can find a reputable one in your area.
Braden Bills says
I want to make sure that my trees are taken care of. I didn’t know that pruning was so important! I think it might be best for me to get a professional to handle it. I don’t want to risk pruning the wrong branch and making things worse.
Is there a best time for tree pruning? Like a season or a particular month?
Ken Partain says
Hi Tom – that will depend on where you live and what type of tree you want to prune.
I believe that is one of the best articles I’ve read on the proper tree care. We are forever teaching our customers about the importance of Tree maintenance.
John Billows says
I had no idea that pruning to much of my tree at one time could send the tree into shock, or even kill the tree. i’ll try taking off a few branches each weekend this summer so the tree has time to adapt to missing a few limps. It might take me longer, but it is better than having to remove a dead tree before I was to impatient.
Hiring somebody who has this relatable knowledge has made all the difference in our trees. Some types of trees are so complex you really need somebody who knows what they’re doing while trimming. Our trees not only need to be cut during dormancy but not too close to the trunk as well!
Kourtney Jensen says
My husband and I got a few fruit trees and are looking for tips on how to grow them, since we’ve never done this before. I never knew that it caused stress to a tree if it’s pruned during its non-dormant stage. We want them to be as healthy as possible, so we’ll be sure to trim them during the fall or winter.
Sandra Hexner says
Thanks for all the great tree care tips. I had no idea that pruning in the fall is best and will reduce as much stress as possible to the tree. I guess as we look for a tree care service we should schedule it in the fall? Maybe we’ll call around and see what we should do for our new property. Thanks.
Derek Dewitt says
My wife and I just moved into a new home with a tree in the front yard and were wondering how to prune it. I had no idea that you were supposed to prune in the winter months when the tree is dormant. When it’s warm out again we’ll see if there are any young branches that can be removed. Thanks for the tips.
Croydon Gardener says
Cleaning your shears with rubber alcohol is a very good tip I haven’t read anywhere else. Indeed it’s important if you want to avoid any contamination. Too bad most people rarely clean their sheers 😀
I absolutely agree with you about that “less is more” approach. It’s easy to get carried away and cut too many branches until you eventually realise there’s not much of a canopy left. Seriously, tree pruning is probably the hardest part of any garden maintenance job.
Violette Lebrac says
I appreciate your advice about knowing when the tree is dormant so you know when to prune it. My mom wants her apple trees to be taken care of while she goes through chemotherapy, but I’m not very good with plants. Maybe it would be better to hire professional tree services that know when apple trees are dormant.
Marcus Coons says
It really helped when you mentioned how it is recommended to prune a tree when it is dormant to avoid putting too much stress on it. I can understand that doing this can help your tree grow better and not have to send its nutrients to branches that will be cut off. We are planning on shaping our fruit trees better this year and wanted to get some tips before we started, so I’m glad I found your post.
Bradford Snelson says
Thanks for your advice to prune the younger branches of a tree rather than the older ones. This makes sense since the younger ones are the ones that will still be growing. Pruning a tree yourself sounds fine to me, but if you have a sick tree and need to remove it I imagine that it would make more sense to leave it to a qualified professional to take it down.
Taylor Bishop says
I just wanted to thank you for going over some tips for tree pruning. I actually didn’t know that it’s important to clean your shears before you are using them. My brother has been thinking of planting a tree in his yard, so these tips could be good for him to know in the future when taking care of it.
Jeremy Thompson says
Great tips! It’s great to learn that pouring rubber alcohol over one’s shears can ensure it’s clean and pathogen-free. I’ll remember to do so when I have to manually do the pruning. For now, I’ll call a tree trimming service to make things easier.
Harper Campbell says
It’s good to know that when it comes to trimming trees that there are somethings that we need to keep in mind to help the process go smooth. I am glad that you mentioned that less is more, so we need to start small and not provide stress for the trees. This is something that we will have to remember when it comes to getting our yard ready for fall.
Joy Butler says
There’s a big oak tree that’s been overshadowing the apple and cherry trees that we planted a couple of years ago. I don’t want it cut down but a bit of pruning would be nice. Great idea about pruning it during its dormancy, and just as luck has it, it’s the perfect time to prune the oak tree in our yard. Thanks for the great tips!
Michael Robinson says
I think it is really interesting how you mentioned that it is important to clean off your pruning shears before you work on trimming. I had no idea that your tree could pick up germs that could damage it — interesting. My wife keeps complaining that our olive tree in the back needs to be pruned and trimmed and I have been too busy to take care of it. I will hire someone to come and do it for us. Thanks again!
Deb Pearl says
I really would like to get some of my trees trimmed before it snows, but I don’t know how I should prune them. That is good to know I should remove the younger branches instead of the bigger ones. It would be a lot easier to remove the newer branches and would make the tree look cleaner. Thank you for the tips!
Theodore Winston says
I’m glad that you talked about tree pruning, I believe pruning could help with improving the health of the tree. I wanted to apply this method to my tree because it gives a great appeal to my house so maintaining it will be the best help. Thanks for your tip about pruning young branches, since it’s an easier choice it also sends less stress to the trees. I didn’t know that we could expose the areas of the tree to some disease-causing germs if they haven’t got cleaned before we prune them.
I wanted to thank you for the information listed here on when the best time to prune is. As you explained, pruning a tree when it is dormant is the best call. We have been dreaming about moving into our first home, and I think that this information is going to be really helpful for us in the future! Thanks again!
Ellie Davis says
I appreciate the tip on pruning the young tree branches instead of the older ones. Last summer I moved into a home with a beautiful backyard filled with trees. I don’t have much time to keep up these trees. I am thinking of hiring a service to come and prune them for me. I need to do my research and find local services I can trust.
I didn’t know that trees can be in shock when trimmed excessively. My mom loves gardening and some of the trees are blocking the road. My dad suggested hiring tree services an shared this article with her.
levticus Bennett says
From my point of view, I would not know the first thing about trimming trees. I think it is an extra smart idea to clean shears before trimming. When working on multiple trees I imagine that you could accidentally spread something that might not be the best for a tree. Finding trimming service with employees that are aware of details like cleaning sheers would be wise.
Trees respond differently to summer pruning and dormant pruning. In the fall the energy of the tree is stored in the root and trunk system to support the top section. If removal of a large portion of the tree is done during dormancy, the tree’s energy is not changed.
Sutton Turner says
I like how you suggested pruning your trees during dormancy. We have big oak trees in our backyard that need to be pruned. I appreciate the tips for effective tree pruning.
Chris S. Martin says
We have had some trees in our yard for quite some time now, and I have been wondering if we need to get the trimmed or not. I am glad you elaborated that this might be a good idea for us to help keep up the appearance and the shapes of the trees. It might be smart for us to talk to an expert about this to see if it is for sure time, or if we should wait for a moment.
Max Sayer says
I have been looking at getting my trees pruned but didn’t know the proper way of doing it. I really appreciated this article especially the Less is More section. I never realized that pruning too much could send the tree into shock.
Taylor Bishop says
Thanks for this advice for tree pruning. I didn’t know that you should prune ones that have just recently emerged because they cause less stress. I’m interested to know if there’s a visual difference to what recent branches look like compared to old ones, just so you know exactly which ones to prune.
I’ve been thinking about finding a tree removal service to help us with a stubborn oak in our yard. I like that you talked about tree pruning, which I think might be worth a shot for us. I’m going to have to talk to a few tree care professionals and see what they suggest for us!
Larry Weaver says
I appreciate the advice to prune younger branches for your trees. A few years ago I planted quite a few trees in my backyard, but today I have had trouble trying to take care of them. I’ll try to find a professional tree service that understands the concept of pruning young branches so that I can find a quality service for my landscape.
Mina Edinburgh says
It really helped when you pointed out that excessive pruning can lead trees into having shocks that will cause their growth rate to slow down drastically. Of course, we would not want that to happen since the last time we over-pruned, the tree got sick and died. Now, we know better, though since we do not know anything about pruning, we might consider getting a professional to help us. That way, the right way will be done.
Mark Murphy says
I really like your tip to cut at a 90-degree angle to promote healthier tree growth in the future. My sister recently moved into a new house that has a lot of trees near her roof. I know that she wants to get rid of the branches near her roof, but she also wants to make sure that the branches grow back healthy as well!
Ellie Davis says
Thank you for suggesting that if you are worried about injuring your tree you should call a professional. My husband and I are needing to get some trees trimmed but don’t know anything about trees. Hopefully, we can find the best tree services in my area.
Millie Hue says
Thanks for pointing out that it is a must to have the trees done by a professional to prevent it from getting injured. I will definitely follow your advice because I don’t want our trees to bear lesser fruits since we eat the fruits a lot ever since I was a kid. Now, we have to find a tree company that we can trust.
Millie Hue says
Thanks for helping me understand that the young branches should be pruned to cause less stress for the tree. With that in mind, I would have to contact a specialist to do so because the trees in our backyard just grew new branches this week. I was wondering when I could have it trimmed, so it’s great that I found your article.
Sariah Meagle says
My mom wants our lawn to look great because there will be a party this coming weekend. It was explained here that the young branches of a tree should be pruned. Moreover, it’s recommended to hire professionals for quality tree shaping.
Dio Marsaille says
Thank you for pointing out that in order to encourage the tree to recover faster after pruning, it is best to cut it in a 90-degree angle. I actually tried cutting the tree branches once, and they all ended up dying. I guess I can try following your tips now, though I have a feeling that I do not have a green thumb. It might be better if I just hired professional to do the pruning for me.
Mark Murphy says
I really appreciate your tip to start small when you are pruning a tree so you can avoid any problems with the tree going into shock. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house, and the house that we want to move into has some trees that have grown dangerously close to our house. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and get a professional who knows to start small with the pruning!
joy butler says
I don’t know much about tree pruning honestly. I think that if I ever tried, it wouldn’t be great. I think that seeking professional help is the best thing you can do when you want an effective job done.
Broadleaf Wood Fuel Ltd says
Thanks for such a great information.
Ellie Davis says
I didn’t know that you should only prune a tree when it’s dormant. My husband and I have a few trees in our yard that could really use some pruning. I’ll have to look into fining the best tree services in our area to help us out.
Michael Lee says
My wife and I have been considering hiring a tree pruning service to do regular work on our house. Unfortunately, both of us do not have much of a green thumb and love good looking landscaping. It is interesting that you recommend cleaning the pruning shears to prevent diseases in the trees, I had never known that this was even possible.