Tree Pruning 101: The Top Tree Pruning Tips You Need to Know

Trees are one of the main life-giving organisms on our planet. They provide us with oxygen, absorb CO2, and give us delicious fruits to harvest year after year. They also give life and beauty to homes and gardens, providing us with shade on sunny days and beautiful green leaves to admire.

When it comes to caring for the trees on your property, pruning is one of the most important things you can do. It not only gives trees shape and form, but it also helps keep trees healthy and can trigger new growth. However, improper pruning can damage trees and can even cause them to die.

In this article, we’ll go over some must-have tips for tree pruning and show you how to keep your trees happy and healthy.

Tip #1: Proper Preparation for Tree Pruning

Before you head out into the yard and start pruning, you’ll need the proper equipment to do it safely and effectively.

Protecting Yourself

Your first step should be to protect your body. You should always wear a pair of safety glasses while pruning. Heavy branches and sharp sticks have a chance of getting in your eye while you cut or while the branch falls. A pair of tight-fitting safety goggles or sunglasses that totally shield your eyes are a good choice while pruning.

You should also wear long sleeves and pants with thick material. This will protect your arms and legs from falling branches or in case you drop your saw or shears.

And lastly, make sure you have a good pair of work gloves. Rough bark and sharp edges can easily cut your hands, and getting cut while on a ladder is not a good situation. Leather gloves are the best choice because they are comfortable and durable.

Get a Good Ladder

The next step should be to secure a sturdy ladder. You’ll have to reach up into the tree to prune and reaching too high can be dangerous. It can make you unstable and cause a fall, and with sharp tools around, that can lead to disaster.

Get a ladder that has adjustable height so you are always in the right spot and can reach high branches.

Select Your Tools

Next, you’ll need your cutting tools. A long-handled pruning saw is ideal for tall trees, but if you are pruning in easy reach, any saw with a sturdy, thick blade will work.

You should also get a pair of pruning shears. These will trim thinner branches easily and help you cut thicker branches as well. Make sure to get a pair with large enough blades and sturdy handles to avoid breaking the shears.

Tip #2: Prune at The Right Time

Pruning at the right time of the year is crucial to keeping your trees healthy. Pruning in different seasons can have different effects on the tree, so you need to prune at the right time to get the effect you want.

If you’re looking to trigger new growths in the tree, prune your trees near the end of winter. As the weather warms up and the tree begins to produce leaves, the tree will direct its energy into new growth. Getting rid of branches at the end of winter allows the tree to put energy into new branches instead of maintaining the older ones.

If you’re looking to slow the growth of a tree, prune it during the summertime. This is when the tree is beginning to slow its growth naturally. Pruning during this time will cause that branch to stop growing completely. This causes the tree to put its remaining energy into the other branches, which gives the tree shape and a direction to grow in.

Do not prune during the fall or end of summer. During the fall, there are often blooms of toxic fungus that assault trees. Cuts to the tree heal more slowly in cold weather as well. This gives the fungus a better chance of infecting a tree.

Tip #3: Figure Out Why You’re Pruning

Determining why you’re pruning in the first place will help you determine which branches need to go.

If you’re pruning to give the tree shape, consider trimming branches back rather than removing them completely. This helps avoid “holes” in the foliage of the tree where there is no coverage.

If the tree needs to be pruned to keep the tree healthy, remove all dead branches and dying limbs. This helps the tree grow and stay alive. You should also inspect the tree for disease or rot; removing this may save the tree.

If safety is the issue, consider which branches need to go to prevent damage or injury. You should also consider how the branches will fall when they are cut. This will help prevent damage to your property and keep you safe.

Tip #4: Cut the Right Way

Making a proper cut when pruning is key to keeping the tree alive and healthy. Improper pruning will potentially expose the tree to disease and could kill the tree.

Start by making a cut on the underside of the branch about 5 inches from the base, about 2/3 of the way through the branch. Then take your saw or shears and make the final cut at the top of the branch, which will cause it to fall.

Once the branch has fallen, take your saw and cut the stub that remains on the tree. This cut should be about 1-2 inches from the trunk of the tree. Do not cut the base of the branch where it is flush with the tree. This will be difficult for the tree to heal and will not grow again.

Arm Yourself for Battle

Now that you know more about tree pruning, you can properly arm yourself for the task at hand.

If you have any more questions about how to care for your trees or pruning services, please visit our blog.