Outdoor Experts

Proper Pruning for Great Looking Trees

By Ken Palmer, President & CEO, ArborMaster, Inc.

Proper pruning can improve a tree’s appearance as well as make it stronger and healthier. Pruning can also be done for safety purposes, to provide clearance if a limb has grown too close to a sidewalk or path.

Typically, young trees are pruned to increase light and air penetration and to develop a stronger plant with an attractive form that will provide a stable growth pattern. Older trees are often pruned to remove dead, dying and diseased limbs and to increase overall safety.

Proper pruning and trimming should be a priority to help ensure that the trees on your property will look great and remain healthy. A certified professional arborist is your best source for information and should be consulted before attempting any significant trimming or pruning project. If you're going to tackle a pruning project, here are a few starting points to keep in mind:

  • Young trees should be pruned for the first time two to five years after planting and then every five to seven years after.
  • The goal of pruning young trees is to establish a strong trunk with branches that are well attached and well-spaced. To accomplish that, make small cuts, early on in order to cause less damage to the tree. Unless the trees natural form provides multiple main stems, maintain a single, dominant leader trunk by removing co-dominant stems that may cause structural weakness as the tree matures.
  • Use the right tool such as hand pruning shears, lopping shears or a pruning saw.
  • Pruning cuts should be made just outside the branch collar, near the trunk. Cuts made between buds or branches can lead to stem decay and improper growth.
    Proper, strategic pruning can help your younger trees grow up healthy, strong, and attractive – great additions to your property. Consult with your local certified professional arborist for assistance.