How To Prune a Tree

How to Prune a Tree

How To Prune a Tree

A little know how on the growth of a tree and some quick technique study will make any landowner a pro at pruning their trees. Many gardeners and people who manage woods get a little free and loose with their tree pruning, so to start, know the basics:

These “Diagonal Pliers” are our favorites for pruning smaller branches, as they allow you to get into tight spots and cut beautifully.

OEMTOOLS 22625 Adjustable Angle Offset Diagonal Pliers

  • Adjustable offset angle for accessing hard-to-reach areas
  • Ergonomic design increases leverage and reduces user fatigue
  • Rubberized handles for improved grip
  • Drop-forged steel for strength and durability
  • Designed for cutting


  • Know when your trees and shrubs should be pruned. For almost all trees and shrubs this is in late winter, or very early Spring. Basically, the less the tree is growing, the better. A warm winter day is ideal. Make a list of the types of trees and shrubs you are going to prune, and spend a little time on Google making sure there aren’t any exceptions to when they should be pruned.
  • For most trees and shrubs, prune right at the trunk, don’t leave a stub. (Again, check your varieties as there are a few exceptions)
  • Remove dead or insect infected branches first.
  • Remove branches that are rubbing against one another.
  • Remove branches that branch off another limb and start growing back to the center.
  • Early on, pick a “leader” vertical branch that is going to be your trunk. Many young trees will start forming multiple leaders. Nip this in the bud and pick the straightest and healthiest one early.
  • Use the “three cut method” branches:

How to Prune a Tree Videos:

Recommended Reading:

An Illustrated Guide to Pruning

Well written and easy to understand, An ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO PRUNING, Third Edition is a must-have for anyone interested in the pruning and maintenance of trees. Filled with updated illustrations, photographs, and examples, this completely updated guide is designed to help readers understand and implement the appropriate pruning practices that are vital to developing sustainable structure in the first 25 years of a tree’s life. Coverage includes a variety of information about the challenges associated with pruning such as disease prevention, root pruning, mature tree pruning, and restoration following storms. With its simple tables, lists, and strategies, this book is an appealing resource for horticulture, landscape and tree associations and industries and is a natural addition for botanic garden and arboreta bookstores.

Essential Pruning Techniques: Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers

Pruning is an indispensable part of garden maintenance, but it is also one of the most difficult. Successful pruning requires a thorough knowledge of a plant’s growth and flowering habits. In Essential Pruning Techniques Tony Kirkham—the head of the arboretum and gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew—shares his decades of knowledge and expertise and expands on the groundbreaking work done by George E. Brown. Step-by-step photographs clearly show the general principles of pruning, and profiles of 379 woody plants include advice on habit, attributes, reasons for pruning, and the best time to prune. Essential Pruning Techniques is a must-have reference for home gardeners and professionals.

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