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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

The Basics Of Tree Pruning

Florida Rooftop View

Trees are a beautiful and practical addition to any home and landscape. They provide protection, shade and shelter, and they make our homes and communities more beautiful. As such, caring for trees from their youth well into maturity will ensure that they can provide these functions for years.

Few of us know the basics of tree care. We may have a basic knowledge of removing dead limbs and foliage every season, but looking for disease, infestation, and knowing how to prune correctly is something best left to professional arborists.

What is pruning?

Pruning is the most common and most essential aspect of tree care. While nature does a beautiful job of naturally pruning forest trees, landscape trees need a bit more shaping and specialized care to perform their various functions. Proper pruning techniques involve knowing tree biology and growth patterns. Improper pruning can lead to lasting damage, disease, and more liability for you, the homeowner.

Because every cut can significantly impact a tree's growth pattern and health, there must be a reason for branch removal. Some common and valid reasons for branch removal include:

  • Branches are dead or dying

  • Tree form and growth needs to be corrected

  • Low-lying or poorly formed branches pose a risk to animals and humans

When to prune?

Routine pruning to improve tree health can be done in any season without a significant impact on a tree. In general, growth and wound closure are optimized if pruning can be done during the early spring and summer months. In cases where trees have active infection or infestations, pruning should be delayed, as there can be an increased risk for transmission to surrounding trees.

Techniques used in pruning

Specific pruning techniques must be performed according to a tree's individual needs. Throughout a tree's life, it will likely go through each of these stages to promote optimal health and growth. These stages of pruning include:

  • Cleaning: The removal of dead, dying, poorly formed, or useless limbs from a tree's crown to promote better growth.

  • Thinning: Proper thinning technique opens up the foliage of a tree, allowing for more light and air penetration from top to root. Thinning also reduces weight on heavy limbs and provides the opportunity for the tree to develop its ideal shape.

  • Raising: Raising involves removing lower limbs of a tree to provide space for buildings, landscapes, traffic, and vistas.

  • Reduction: Reduction pruning involves reducing the size of a tree. Pruning back leaders and branch terminals to secondary ones that can assume primary roles will reduce both height and girth, therefore preserving the structural integrity of the tree and its roots.

Pruning young or old trees? Which is best?

In order to maintain a tree's health throughout its life, you must train and prune a tree during all stages of its growth. Trees that receive proper training while they are young will need less corrective pruning as they grow and develop. Establishing a solid structure of primary branches while a tree is young will ensure health as it matures.

Much of the pruning done on young trees involves thinning and establishing leader branches that grow out and up. Establishing a few strong branches that will support its mature shape will help determine how to best shape supporting branches.

Maturing trees need cleaning---removing dead or dying branches to help support its continued growth and development. Noticing and clearing diseased material will also be necessary to preserve and extend your tree's lifespan.

The peril of do-it-yourself-pruning

Unless you have knowledge of proper tree pruning techniques, it is not advised to try to maintain your trees yourself. Improper care of trees can damage and weaken them, causing you more money in the long run. Your property may sustain damage as a result of falling limbs or the complete loss of a tree. Part of your home maintenance budget should include caring for your landscaping; perhaps it's time to call in a certified arborist to assess tree health and provide recommendations for long term care and maintenance.

Fey And Sons: Professional, Caring, and Certified

Fey and Sons is a family-owned organization dedicated to all aspects of tree care and service. From pruning to restorative health to removal and beyond, we are certified and trained in all types of tree care. Nearly forty years of quality service to the community and many satisfied clients prove that we can be a trusted resource for maintaining and preserving your trees. If you want to protect and add value to your property, hire us for all of your tree care needs! Visit for more information.

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