A magnolia tree is a Southern favorite with large green leaves and beautiful fragrant blooms. These trees will get very tall and wide if left to their own devices, giving your yard a lot of shade and privacy. It is not necessary to prune the self-shaping magnolia unless you want to keep its height under control or want to train it to a particular shape.
Cut out dead or damaged limbs with a tree pruner. Cut slightly away from the trunk of the tree so that you do not nick the tree's main stem. Trim out diseased branches as well, making sure to get all of the disease by trimming where you know the wood is healthy.
Prune out what is necessary such as branches that are rubbing together or one side of a forked top. Split tops can cause a weak area that might split in harsh weather. Make these cuts in the summer when the tree isn't dormant and can fight off diseases. Also wait until after the flowers have dropped. Cutting before then might remove the pretty blooms or cause the tree to not bloom for the year because it is diverting energy to growth where the cut was made.
Make cuts on a limb in a notch where the wood is branching off. Cut at an angle with a tree trimmer or loppers. Do not make too many cuts in one season. Magnolias grow slowly and do not heal quickly.
Trim lower branches that touch the ground to prevent mold growth. This will also bring some much needed ventilation into the tree.