Trees provide a variety of benefits to your landscape, whether it is cool shade, striking fall colors, or a delicious harvest of nuts or fruit. The main thing you have to give in return is to keep them healthy by regularly pruning the trees of dead, diseased or broken limbs; and by thinning them out so they can be at optimum health. For seasoned tree trimmers, you can even shape your tree how you want, such as a vase or a pear for a more aesthetic quality.
Get the Timing Right
You should only do major pruning when your tree is dormant. Small trimming, such as cutting back dead, diseased or broken limbs, can be done at any season of the year because it is important to remove the debris. For major pruning, trimming when the tree is dormant will help you identify what branches are healthy and which are not. The time of pruning also depends on your tree variety. For example, dogwoods should not be pruned from April to May because it makes them susceptible to damaging insects. Trim flowering trees within three weeks of their blooming so you don't cut any buds off.
Knowing What to Trim
Trim back branches that are dead, broken or diseased to the base of the trunk. If these are left on the tree, they can cause rot. Also prune back branches that are growing at awkward angles: directly up or down or into other branches. If you have a shaped tree, trim back any branches growing outside of the general shaping. Thin out overcrowded areas for proper air circulation and for sunlight to reach in.
Trimming the Branches
If you don't trim a tree properly, you will do more damage than good. Use a pruning saw on the branch you are going to trim about 2 feet up from the trunk. Start sawing on the bottom of the branch until you are almost half way done. When it gets to this point, switch to the top of the branch and saw all the way through the top. This helps protect the bark from tearing. After the majority of the branch is off, now you can saw off the stub sticking out from the trunk. Do not trim off more then 30 percent of the healthy tree branches after you cut off the dead and broken ones.