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How to Trim Mesquite Trees

mesquite image by Robert Freese from

Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) grows low but dense: the tree tops out at 35 feet in height and width, yet the canopy can grow quite dense, not allowing light and air inside. The tree is native to North America and grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6b to 9. Pruning mesquite annually allows you to control the shape and size of the tree and to promote tree health though air circulation. Prune in the spring when frost danger passes.

Prepare a sanitizing solution by mixing one part bleach and 10 parts water in a bucket. Place your pruning tools in the bucket. Cut off all dead, diseased and damaged wood at its base. To avoid infecting healthy parts of the tree, dip your pruners back in the sanitizing solution between each cut.

Prune off branches that crisscross or compress other limbs. Identify dead, diseased or damaged branches on your mesquite tree that must be removed to protect tree health. Damaged or diseased branches will be broken, discolored or marred, while dead wood feels brittle and does not move in the wind. Cut the offending branch at its base. This prevents future limb damage.

Trim back long limbs, working one at a time. Cut the limb back to a lateral branch or just before a leaf node.

Thin out dense growth from the mesquite canopy. The tree grows very thickly and will sport lots of dense, tangled regions. Thinning out the canopy promotes air circulation, which helps keep the tree disease free.


Use lopping shears to cut limbs and anvil pruners for small cuts. To remove large limbs, use a hand saw.


If your mesquite tree has thorns, work slowly and carefully and wear thick long gloves, or hire a tree service to do the job for you. Thornless mesquite trees are easier to prune since they lack the inch-long thorns.

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