How to Trim Ornamental Trees


Ornamental trees fit well in gardens and come in a variety of types. When thinking about ornamentals, most gardeners picture only flowering trees; however, you can choose from evergreens or deciduous trees that are flowering, dwarf or fruit-bearing. Trimming ornamental trees is basically the same as for other trees, but the timing of when to trim might vary.

Step 1

Wait for the proper trimming time. For trees that flower, trim right after blooms die in late spring. For fruit producers, trim after the fruit has been picked. For evergreen trees, trimming can be done anytime, but the best time is before new growth in early spring.

Step 2

Find the limbs that are to be pruned back and decide where to trim. Dead limbs should be cut completely off, while limbs with disease can be cut back a few inches below the sickness. For shaping, cut limbs to be shorter than those below them. If the top of the tree forms a fork, cut one of them out so that the tree continues to grow up without the risk of splitting. For dwarf trees, trim in very small lengths. These trees grow slowly; if you cut off more than a few inches, it could take a long time for it to grow back.

Step 3

Place the trimmer blade or loppers in a location where another smaller branch is growing off of the limb. Set the blade at an angle. This is best for shaping or pruning diseased limbs. For dead limbs, place the trimmer about an inch out from the tree base, so that you cut off the entire branch. This way you won't damage the trunk.

Step 4

Saw through the limb quickly so that it doesn't tear. If you can reach the branch, hold it with the other hand while you trim. If you can't, cut part way through the branch from the underside first and then turn the blade over and cut through the top in the same location.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree pruner
  • Loppers
  • Eye protection


  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
  • Tree Boss: Tree Trimming
Keywords: trim ornamental trees, trim flowering trees, prune ornamental trees