Tree Pruner Instructions


Many types of landscape plants, including trees, require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best. Regular pruning removes damaged and diseased growth from your shrubs, hedges and trees, allowing them to grow more robustly. Although some homeowners prefer to hire professionals to clip and prune their trees, with the right tools and a little time, you can maintain many of these larger plants by yourself. Pruning your trees to keep them healthy and attractive requires correct seasonal timing and proper techniques.

Step 1

Prune your trees for the first time when you plant them in your soil. Use sharp pruning shears to cut away just the broken twigs and damaged growth. Remove any sections that appear diseased. Disinfect your pruning shears when you prune diseased growth. Mix a disinfecting solution with 1 tablespoon of bleach and 9 tablespoons of water. Dip your shears into a glass of this solution between cuts when pruning diseased specimens.

Step 2

Prune your trees in the winter, while they remain dormant. Shape your young trees by removing bent branches and branches that cross each other or turn back toward the center of your tree. Remove overgrown branches that extend far beyond the rest of your tree’s canopy. Stand back to view your entire tree, noticing any unsightly growth that deters from the overall shape and appearance. Cut these branches near the point where they attach to the larger limb--their point of insertion--keeping your branch saw or pruning shears parallel with the center trunk of the tree.

Step 3

Thin out the canopies of your trees to encourage adequate amounts of sunlight to reach the inner branches. Remove branches that grow directly opposite another on the trunks of your trees. Cut off branches that hug the center trunk. Remove branches that form less than 45-degree angles near their insertion points. Prune away lateral branches that extend higher than the main trunk. Lateral branches are ones that attach to the main trunk of your trees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don’t prune near electrical wires or unstable structures. Leave very tall trees and hollow specimens to professional tree trimmers. These dangerous situations can cause serious accidents to inexperienced pruners.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears Bleach Water Glass Branch saw


  • University of Minnesota: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • Forest Service: How to Prune Trees
  • Texas A&M University: Follow Proper Pruning Techniques
  • “Botanica’s Gardening Encyclopedia”, Susan Page 2001

Who Can Help

  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: prune tree instruction, pruning tree branch, trim tree branch, how to prune, prune tree tips

About this Author

Piper Li, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear in Modern Mom, Biz Mojo, Walden University and GardenGuides. She is the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." With a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Mesa State, Li enjoys writing about health, horticulture and business management.