How to Prune Sugarberry


The sugarberry tree, or Celtis laevigata, is also known as the sugar hackberry, hackberry and Mississippi hackberry. It is a medium-sized, broad-crowned, fast-growing deciduous tree with outreaching and rather droopy branches. A mature sugarberry can reach a height and spread of 60 to 80 feet. The bark has a bumpy and wart-like appearance. The sugarberry is hardy in zones 5 to 10. Reasons for pruning are to remove any broken branches or limbs, to control its size within your landscape, to maintain safety (walkways, structures, roofs), and to thin out deadwood within the crown of the tree.

Step 1

Remove any dead or damaged branches as soon as possible. Make a clean cut so that the tree will heal properly. Torn or ripped branches and limbs are an entry way for disease. This can be done at anytime during the year.

Step 2

Determine where you need to prune to maintain the size of your tree within your landscape design or to insure safety of walkways, structures, or your roof. Branches rubbing on your roof can cause damage, which can lead to a leaky roof.

Step 3

Locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Make a clean cut in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. You do not want to leave a stub, and you do not want to cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge. This must be maintained for the health of the tree. This pruning procedure should be done when the tree is dormant, which is in early spring or late fall.

Step 4

Visually inspect the crown of your tree for deadwood (dead twigs, branches, and limbs) and crossover branches. Deadwood often occurs in mature trees. Clearing out the deadwood and crossover branches is known as thinning. This pruning procedure is usually done by a professional tree service, whose workers are accustomed to heights and are knowledgeable as to what branches to cut to maintain the health and appearance of the tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never prune branches that are close to electrical wires; this should be left to the electric company. Use caution and know when you need to call a professional. Don't try to tackle the removal of large limbs that could cause personal injury or damage the surrounding property when they fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand-pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture--Forest Service
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Nature Hills Nursery
Keywords: sugarberry deciduous tree, pruning clean cut remove, branches limbs dormant damaged

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.