Keeping Your Yard in Control: Tree Pruning Tips to Follow This Spring

Trees can grow anything from 1 ft to 10 ft every year, and they never stop growing, unless they’re damaged or injured by natural forces.

The most ancient tree on Earth is over 5,000 years old.

After trees reach maturity, their branches continue to spread and get thicker. So, unless you want one of these giants taking over your garden, it’s best to keep them in trim.

Late winter is the best time to get busy with tree pruning before the next season’s growth. Here are the basics.

What’s the Purpose of Tree Pruning?

Trimming old dead branches from the trees in your garden is essential to protect your family and property from falling branches.

According to, careful trimming is essential to promote healthy sustainable growth. Solid, strong trees are less likely to fall in a severe storm.

Pruning trees should be part of your hurricane-preparation plan if you live in an affected area.

A regular pruning program also gets rid of low-hanging branches that obstruct pathways and vehicle access.

It’s essential to trim branches that are growing towards power lines and electrical lights.

How to Prune Trees

To start with, look at the tree from a short way off and decide on the shape you are after. Step back periodically to check you are on track or you could end up with a lopsided specimen at the end.

Small Branches

You can use gardening shears to cut thin, lower twigs and branches by hand. Bear in mind that pruning a tree causes new growth. For the best look, cut off the limbs about ¼ inch above an outward-facing bud.

To prevent exposure to disease and water-damage, always cut branches at a 45-degree angle.

Larger Limbs

You’ll need a saw for this part of the job.

It is important for the health of the tree that you trim large branches in at least three stages. the first two cuts are to relieve weight off the main branch.

Your first cut should be on the underside of the main branch, about 18 inches from the trunk. Cut halfway through the branch then follow up by cutting through the top of the branch about an inch higher than your original cut.

Keep going until the branch breaks free.

The third cut is the most important one. Where the branch meets the tree trunk, you’ll see an area that is slightly swollen with rougher bark. This is the ‘collar’ of the branch. Cut just outside this collar at 45 degrees from the base of the tree.

Cutting the tree in this way assist the tree in forming a callus where the branch once was and protects it from water damage.

A Branch Too Far

If you feel out of your depth when it comes to pruning your garden, get in touch with a professional garden landscaping service.

Trimming the branches high up on your tree is asking for trouble. Tree felling is dangerous work, even for the professionals.

It’s worth the extra expense to get help with large branches or those located high up.

A Final Word

Large trees on your property are aesthetically pleasing and a shady blessing in the summer months. They can become a curse if left to their own devices.

Tree pruning is an important part of a home owner’s responsibilities. Here’s some more gardening inspiration to make this spring and summer the best ever.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.