Have you been wondering whether you should get your trees pruned and trimmed? It’s an easy task to overlook. What is tree pruning, and what’s the worst that can happen?

Tree pruning is strategically removing dead branches from a tree. It’s essential for a tree’s aesthetic, health, and growth habit, as well as for your safety. At the very least, it’s good to know what tree pruning is, how to prune trees correctly, and whether you should invest in a tree service company. The last thing you want is to hire tree removal to pull out your entire tree due to a lack of care.

Why Is It Important To Prune Trees?

You should trim trees for three main reasons: Aesthetic, Health, and Safety.

The most common reason people like to get their trees pruned is for aesthetic reasons. But what people often overlook is that there’s much more to tree pruning than just making an average tree look pretty.

The most important reason for getting your landscape trees pruned should be to maintain a healthy tree. Tree pruning techniques are designed to optimize the growth habit of your tree – from trimming off diseased or dead branches to providing a strong structure and durability for your large tree. If not taken care of, your healthy trees can become infected and unstable, resulting in our next point.

A large tree can become incredibly unsafe to people and property nearby if it’s unstable. Diseased branches can fall and injure someone, create property damage, or even cause a power outage if it breaks a power line.

That’s why it’s crucial to get your larger trees checked and pruned routinely, at least once yearly. The dormant season before early spring is the best time of year to prune deciduous trees. Tree trimming over late winter and late spring are generally not recommended to prevent oak wilt.

The Different Methods of Pruning

There are four methods of pruning a tree depending on your goal.

Reduce Tree Top Density 

Use this method to increase the light penetration and air circulation at the top of the tree. This method requires trimming rubbing branches at the edge of the crown that is taking up space for other branches to grow.

Maintain Plant Health 

This method’s top priority is to get rid of every infected, broken, and dead branch. That way, dead branches don’t contaminate the rest of the tree and prevent broken branches that can cause damage to anyone or anything surrounding it. Doing this by late fall also helps to increase the foliage, resulting in better tree health and more leaves and flowers by early spring.

spring blooming in spring

Tree Size Management

If your goal is increasing clearance for other objects, use this method. This method entails pruning the branches from a street tree that could block buildings, utility lines, pedestrians, and oncoming traffic.

Provide Structural Integrity 

With this method, your goal is to establish a reliable framework for a younger tree. It stays sturdy when it becomes a mature tree because its tree roots can handle the weight. That way, your tree can bear storm damage and last for years or even decades.

What are the Right Pruning Tools?

It’s essential to get the right tools for your tree trimming job depending on the tree species you’re working with and the type of cuts you’re doing. 

For smaller trees, use pruning shears. We prefer the blade hand pruner over the anvil type to make cleaner cuts. 

For larger trees, we recommend a tree trimmer, lopper, or hand saws for more significant than half-inch diameter cuts. Don’t use hedge shears to prune. Be sure that your tree trimmer uses a sharp blade.

Pruning Young Trees

The best time to start pruning your trees is while they’re young to “train” your trees to establish a strong tree trunk with large branches. 

It’s also a good idea to work with small trees if you’re starting to learn proper pruning techniques – preferably from a skilled arborist. Because if you make mistakes, the cuts do less damage to young trees than to more mature trees.

How To Prune

The tree pruning techniques will vary, but every method will involve these three basic cuts: 

  1. The Underside of the Branch: The placement of your first pruning cut needs to be around 18 inches up the underside. With the first cut, cut only halfway through the lateral branch.
  2. The Topside of the Branch: Make the proper pruning cut around one inch out from the first cut. Cut until the lateral branch breaks off on its own.
  3. The Outside of the Branch Collar: This final cut close to the branch bark ridge prevents water damage and allows the callus to form quickly. You want to make this pruning cut without leaving a stub. Make a final cut with a 45-degree angle.

Tree Trimming Costs

As you can see, investing in tree pruning is essential to keep your trees in pristine condition and their surroundings safe. 

Of course, you can try to buy your own equipment and learn the tree pruning techniques on your own, but you’ll likely see that the time and cost of tree trimming can add up.

That’s why we recommend hiring a certified arborist or tree care professionals to prune your trees – especially the larger trees that require climbing. They’ll have the special equipment and training to remove the large branches safely.

The cost of tree trimming is based on many factors, including the size of a tree, but here is some data that can be helpful: 

The average cost ranges from $350 to $650 depending on the species of tree and the size of the tree.

The average price based on the height of the tree can start as low as $250 for a small tree with a simple tree pruning service to as high as $2,500 for a tall tree that requires climbing and getting close to unsafe environments such as power lines. 

Price Range Based On Height

  • 10 – 20 ft : $250 – $525
  • 20 – 30 ft : $390 – $720
  • 30 – 50 ft : $500 – $1,200
  • 50 – 100 ft : $740 – $2,000

The average price based on reason can vary depending on the level of urgency and acts as additional services. We recommend having your trees checked and pruned annually to avoid these tree costs.

Price Per Hour Range Based On Reason

  • Health: Free
  • Aesthetics : $100 – $200
  • Structure : $150 – $200
  • Safety : $200 – $250
  • Insurance : $200 – $250

Price also varies based on the type of tree. Evergreens like the pine tree don’t need to be pruned often since they mostly care for themselves. However, they’ll need to be pruned more often once they reach maturity.

Price Range Based On Tree Type

  • Fruit Tree : $100 – $400
  • Palm Tree : $200 – $500
  • Maple Trees : $400 – $1,000
  • Oak Tree : $850 – $1,300
  • Pine Tree : $1,500 – $2,500

Avoid These Pruning Mistakes

  • Not having a plan. Each cut affects how the tree grows. Be sure to plan each proper pruning cut with your goal in mind.
  • Not learning the proper place to make each cut. Improper pruning can damage a tree for life. You can start learning with a newly planted tree to minimize any damages you might do as a beginner. Learn where and how to make each cut from a professional arborist or tree pruner.
  • Not understanding how trees heal. Trees don’t heal as people do. Once a tree has a wound, it can only compartmentalize it. As a result, the tree has been damaged forever. That’s why getting your tree cuts right the first time is crucial.
  • Removing more than 25% of foliage during a growing season. This can worsen your tree’s overall health or even cause the tree to die. That’s because the bark will have excessive sun exposure and damage.
  • Pruning a newly planted tree the first year. This is because a smaller tree would still be too fragile to handle its first cuts. Avoid pruning the first year unless you remove broken, dead, or diseased branches.
  • Pruning within 10 ft of a power line or power grid. You could electrocute yourself from touching a live wire or exposed metal if you’re not careful. We recommend leaving this work to a tree service with a bucket truck.
  • Pruning by yourself with chainsaws or ladders. As with Point #6, a lack of experience pruning in high-risk situations can cause serious injuries or even death. We recommend leaving the street tree work to tree care companies with safety equipment.
  • Leaving tree branch stubs or cutting off the branch collar. When you leave a tree branch stub, the tree can’t grow bark to cover the open wounds. As a result, the stem tissue in the stub is exposed to decay, creates a portal for insect infestation, and potentially sends rot down into the tree branch, trunk, and tree roots. When you cut off the branch collar, the main trunk is exposed to decay as it no longer has protection from the elements. This results in a completely unhealthy tree.

To learn more about standard tree pruning practices, contact us at David Tree Service to get a free estimate and help you decide whether it’s worth hiring someone to do professional tree trimming for you. We also provide tree removal, lawn care, and emergency tree service at your convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should tree branches be pruned?

We recommend pruning your trees during their dormant season between late fall and early spring.

What should not be pruned on trees?

Don’t prune dormant buds such as leaf and flower buds. Doing this can result in losing springtime flowers. Furthermore, it makes a tree use more energy than normal to replace the foliage.

How do you prune an overgrown tree?

First, get rid of the dead branches within reach by using a pruning saw. To get to the branches you can’t reach with a pruning saw, use a long-handled pole saw. Then use a chainsaw to cut crowded branches. For cutting off higher branches, we recommend you hire a professional arborist to do the riskier work for you.

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