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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

All About Pruning Your Trees

Many homeowners take the health of their landscape for granted; as you survey the health of your shrubbery and trees, what do you see? If things are looking a little scruffy these days, it’s a good idea to consider having your landscape trimmed and pruned not only for its aesthetic value, but for landscape health.

Pruning: What is it?

Pruning is the process of cutting away overgrown and dead branches and stems to promote healthier plant growth. Most plants and trees benefit from different kinds of pruning and maintenance. While pruning during the wrong time of year will not necessarily kill your plants, improper pruning can weaken or damage them, thus shortening their life span.

Why do we prune trees?

We prune trees to extend the life of a tree and provide a better quality of life and strength for them. Trees that are allowed to become overgrown tend to develop diseases and infestations that are hard to bounce back from. Though it might seem like a relatively simple process, it’s important to note that every cut made, and every branch pruned can potentially change the growth patterns of a tree; no branch should ever be cut without reason.

We prune trees to increase safety, increase light and air penetration for trees and neighboring plants, and correct and prevent weaknesses and deficiencies that could further affect a tree’s growth. If you know little about trees, it’s best to leave this job to a trained arborist to avoid injury to you and structural damage to the tree.

Pruning 101: The Basics

While we don’t necessarily recommend that you tackle a project of this size and scope yourself, there are some things to know about pruning so that you know what to ask a trained arborist as you craft a pruning plan together. Here are some pruning basics to get you started as you create a thriving, beautiful landscape:

  • Leaves have an essential role in a tree’s growth. Leaves are necessary for converting sunlight to energy. When pruning, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t remove more than 30 percent of a tree’s live foliage at a given time. Each type of pruning yields different results, with the overall goal being to improve and sustain the health of your trees.

  • Crown lifting will allow for the healthy placement of smaller trees and shrubs on your property. When crown lifting is done, low branches are removed, allowing more light to pass through to low-lying vegetation. Avoid leaving too much of a clear stem, as branches have a significant role in controlling the movement and strength of a tree in high winds.

  • Crown thinning will improve the nutrient absorption and aspiration process of a tree. As you remove select branches throughout the crown, air circulation and light penetration both increases. The focus of this type of pruning should be the removal of small branches. Removing too many small branches can alter the tree’s structure and strength, affecting its growth in subsequent seasons. Crown thinning can be dangerous business, as it involves getting into the foliage of a tree at great heights and avoiding branches that are falling to the ground after being cut.

  • Crown reduction will allow an overgrown tree a chance to flourish once more. If one of your mighty oaks has outgrown its intended space, consider a crown reduction. Crown reduction will shrink the overall size of your foliage by shortening branches to boost growth. Aim to maintain a flowing line that matches the natural growth patterns of your tree. This type of pruning is most likely to damage your tree long-term, so only perform reduction if necessary due to space issues.

  • Pollarding is ongoing pruning to establish healthy trees and foliage. The process of pollarding involves continuous pruning and shaping at frequent intervals to encourage ideal growth patterns. While this process is necessary for some types of trees, it does cause considerable stress when applied regularly, so it’s best to avoid it if possible.

When should pruning be done?

Ideally, pruning is best performed when a tree is considered “dormant.” For trees in the southern part of the United States, the ideal pruning time is January through March, before new foliage begins to grow. Pruning does require the use of specialized techniques and tools, so consider employing the services of a trained arborist to help you complete the job successfully.

Sarasota Tree Service: Tree care professionals you can trust

Sarasota Tree Service has nearly forty years of experience with every aspect of landscape and tree care. Pruning and planting, disease treatment, and removal are all done with the patience and care of true professionals. Regardless of your landscaping needs, we have the tools, skills, and knowledge to help craft your perfect landscape. Contact us now for an assessment of your home and property; visit for more information.

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