5 Proper Pruning Techniques Tree Pros Use

Understanding proper pruning techniques is an essential skill every gardener needs to learn. In this post, McDaniel Tree Services, Birmingham’s trusted tree-trimming company, explains more about the proper pruning techniques they use. 

proper pruning techniques

1. Always Prune for a Good Reason

When fall rolls around, do you trim your trees because you think you should? That’s a mistake, especially when it comes to pruning young trees. You should always have a good reason to trim the trees, such as: 

  • To improve their health by removing diseased tree branches. You may also need to consider cutting branches if the crown’s too cluttered to improve airflow. 
  • For better safety. Pruning is wise to remove damaged branches or branches that are rubbing together and avoid scarring. You might also need to prune to improve sightlines or avoid utility cables. 
  • To improve the look of the tree, since a proper pruning job can enhance curb appeal.

2. Raising the Crown

In this instance, you remove the lower branches of the tree, usually for better clearance or improved sightlines. It’s best to do this with young trees, as the stress of this can hurt an old, large tree. 

Proper pruning techniques involve cutting branches as close to the trunk as possible but always leaving the collar intact. This speeds up the healing of the pruned branch. 

3. Thinning the Crown

You need some expertise to carry this out successfully, or you might remove the dominant leader. The effect is that you can significantly curb growth or kill the tree. You should identify the strongest sprouts and trim away any that cross over other branches. Leave the rest evenly spaced for pleasing symmetry. 

It’s best to perform this task slowly over a few years, as removing more than a quarter of the crown has the same negative effect as topping the tree. 

4. Cleaning the Crown

Though it seems similar to the previous technique, the goal here is to remove dead or dying limbs. You do this for the tree’s health and to stop decay from spreading.

Evaluate each branch before removing it. If you’re taking off more than half of the foliage, remove the whole tree. If you think this will amount to more than a quarter of the crown, call an arborist for advice. 

5. Height Reduction

Height reduction is a difficult ask in mature trees, so it’s best to start young. You can’t simply lop off the crown to shorten the tree, or you can kill it. Avoid cutting the main trunk and reserve your efforts for the smaller branches. If this isn’t enough, consider removing the tree. 

Cutting Tips

Most cutting tips are common sense. These include:

  • Using sharp clean tools appropriate for the job
  • Cut the branches cleanly
  • If there’s a branch collar or bark ridge, cut just outside of it
  • If there’s no collar, cut close to the trunk

Call Us for Expert Pruning

Our best recommendation when it comes to using proper pruning techniques is to leave pruning tall trees to us. We have the tools, safety equipment, and expertise to handle these projects, so call McDaniel Tree Services at (205) 308-8270 today. 

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