Information on Tree Trimming


Trimming a tree is serious work that requires care and planning. According to the International Society of Arboriculture, proper tree pruning encourages healthy growth, while poor pruning can result in permanent damage or even death to the tree.

Information on Tree Trimming image by "The Tree and the River" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: tipiro (Jose Roberto V. Moraes) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.


Never remove a branch without a good reason. Trim for safety, aesthetics or health. Prune a young tree to establish a strong "scaffold" structure with a sturdy trunk, a dominant leader and well-spaced branches. Trim a mature tree to remove dead, hazardous or overcrowded branches or to increase light and air penetration.


Most trees can be pruned nearly any time, but cuts may heal faster just before leaves emerge in spring. Avoid the period immediately after new growth emerges. Trimming at this time can stress the tree. For some species, trimming should be avoided during specific months to prevent disease.


The larger the limb, the more difficult it is for the tree to close the wound. Anticipate problem tree branches early and remove them while they're small.


Learn the growth habit of your tree. Does it grow naturally in a fountain shape, a round shape or tall and slim? Trim selectively to achieve a natural shape.


Make cuts just beyond the branch collar, the bulging portion where the base of the branch meets the trunk. Do not cut into the collar or leave a longer stub. A stub will sprout several small, weak branches with an unsightly broom effect.


Trimming mature trees is dangerous. It involves high risk of injury from falls, dropped branches or nearby power lines. Unless you have proper training, never climb a tree or use a ladder to trim branches. Hire a trained professional instead.


  • International Society of Arboriculture Tree Care Information

Who Can Help

  • Arbor Day Foundation Animated Tree Pruning Guide
  • USDA Forest Service How to Prune Trees
Keywords: trimming a tree, tree pruning, problem tree branches

About this Author

Lisa Shanks has been writing professionally for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared online and in print in newspapers, books and consumer and professional magazines. Specialties include gardening and landscaping, the environment, consumer education and health. She holds a Master of Science in education.