Pruning 101 – How to Properly Prune Your Trees

Here are some basic things that you need to know when pruning your trees:

Why Prune a Tree?


  • Eliminate all damaged and decayed branches to keep pests and insects from infesting your tree.
  • Thinning a dense canopy will allow air and sunlight to enter the tree which will result in growth.
  • Get rid of crossing branches to avoid them from rubbing against each other.
  • Eliminate co-dominant leaders that can cause splitting and tear of wood during strong winds.


  • Regular and proper pruning can keep the structure of the tree at its best. This will prevent hazards including low-lying branches from growing and causing damage to streets and driveways.

Maintain Tree Form

  • Misshaped trees are the ones that have branches that grow extensively and leads to an unsightly form of the tree. Pruning these branches help maintain the excellent shape of the tree.

Stimulate or Restrict Growth

  • If there is excessive growth among branches, pruning can restrict their growth. Meanwhile, if there are sparse areas in the tree, pruning can motivate growth.

When to Prune a Tree?

Pruning a tree with hand shearsIf your tree has damaged, diseased and dead branches, you don’t have to wait for the right season to prune them. If this is not the case for your tree, the ideal time to prune is during the latter part of winter, early spring, or before the opening of new buds. Particular types of trees including dogwood and maple will bleed if pruned during this season, but it should be okay. As much as possible, don’t try to prune your tree during the hot season and extreme cold.  Lincoln Tree Service has an interesting perspective on this topic – contact Steven Huber for his thoughts.

How to Prune a Tree?

Getting Started

  • Before you begin pruning, make sure that you know the goal and the reason you are doing it. Plan it and know the right type of tools that you need to utilize.
  • There are two types of pruners: bypass and anvil. Each one of them has a unique function so it is best to know how to use them properly.
  • Loppers are meant to cut wood ¾ to 11/2 inch in diameter. For pruning, it is best to use bypass lopper.
  • Pruning saws are folding saws that can cut wood up to 3″ in diameter.

How to Cut

  • Pruning causes wounds to the tree. If it is correctly done, it will benefit the tree a lot. However, if not, it can damage the tree beyond repair. Leaving flush cuts and a stub are wrong ways of pruning a tree.
  • Wounds caused by pruning don’t “heal,” but a callus-like material covers it until the cut is no longer in sight.
  • When the tree is pruned, the chemicals inside its body compartmentalize to prevent the tree from decaying due to pruning.
  • Avoid cutting the tree near the branch collar and branch bark ridges. Before you prune the tree, make sure you know where these parts are located so you can avoid cutting into them.
  • Once done with pruning, don’t coat the wound with tree paint or wound dressing, this will be counterproductive. They do not prevent decay from happening and have no real benefits to the tree. Also, avoid pruning too much of the tree at once.

Close up of autumn leaves