How to Do Tree Trimming in the Fall


Trees and shrubs may enhance a landscape or detract from its beauty. Trees that become overgrown and straggly create an eyesore in yards and parks. Periodic pruning keeps your trees looking their best throughout the year. Pruning also helps protect trees from damage caused by pests and diseases, enhancing the overall health of the trees. While some blossoming trees require seasonal trimming immediately after flowering, most trees benefit from pruning during the fall season. Trimming in the fall minimizes damage during winter ice storms and prepares the trees for their new, spring growth.

Step 1

Inspect your trees in the autumn after the leaves fall from the branches. Check for any dead or broken branches. Look for branches that overextend the tree, causing them to look out of place and giving the tree an uneven appearance. Notice any limbs that rub against the house or partially block walkways or driveways. Examine the canopy of your trees for crowding. Some trees require branch thinning to allow adequate airflow during the summer foliage. If you have a lot trees, mark your selected branches with a small spot of bright spray paint, making them easier to locate during your trimming session.

Step 2

Remove the damaged, diseased and broken branches from your trees on a dry, calm day in the fall. Use pruning shears for small saplings and narrow branches on mature trees. Use a limb saw for thicker branches and hard, woody growth. Make your cut on the outside edge of the branch bark ridge. This ridge appears as a crease on the upper side of the branch, where the branch leaves the trunk of the tree. Cut downwards along the outer edge of this ridge to remove the entire, damaged limb from the tree. Disinfect your limb saw or pruning shears when cutting diseased branches. Dip the tool into a liquid solution containing nine parts water to one part household bleach.

Step 3

Thin the canopies of thick trees by removing several small branches throughout the trees. Take out several of the crowded branches to leave a uniform growth of limbs spread evenly over each tree. Create a uniform appearance by removing branches that grow opposite other branches on the trunks. Leave a staggered pattern of limbs along the trunks of your trees in both vertical and horizontal directions. Remove these limbs at a slight angle near the outer edge of the branch bark ridge. Placing your cuts in this location will help the tree heal quickly and minimize damage.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove the trimmed limbs and branches from beneath your tree in the fall, immediately after pruning. Do not allow these branches to remain on the soil where they can harbor bacterial and fungal diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Limb saw
  • Pruning shears


  • USDA Forest Service: Pruning Cuts
  • Colorado State University: Fall Pruning

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M University: Pruning Techniques
Keywords: fall tree pruning, trim trees, pruning trees

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.