Tree Pruning Guidelines

To encourage the development of a strong, healthy tree, consider the following guidelines when pruning.

  1. Prune First for Safety, Next for Health, and Finally for Aesthetics.

  2. Never prune trees that are touching or near utility lines; instead consult your local utility company. This is always the best option, however, sometimes there are mitigating circumstances where on must do, what one must do. We suggest you investigate our Non Conductive NC series of trimming equipment.

  3. Avoid pruning trees when you might increase susceptibility to important pests (e.g. in areas where oak wilt exists, avoid pruning oaks in the spring and early summer; prune trees susceptible to fireblight only during the dormant season). Use the following decision guide for size of branches to be removed:

    1. under 2" diameter - go ahead,
    2. between 2.5" and 4" diameter - think twice, (things look smaller than they really are. and they fall a lot faster than you think.)
    3. greater than 4.5" diameter - have a good reason, and observe all safety recommendations contained in this site.)

Crown Thinning

  1. Assess how a tree will be pruned from the top down.

  2. Favor branches with strong, U-shaped angles of attachment. Remove branches with weak, V-shaped angles of attachment and/or included bark.

  3. Ideally, lateral branches should be evenly spaced on the main stem of young trees.

  4. Remove any branches that rub or cross another branch.

  5. Make sure that lateral branches are no more than one-half to three-quarters of the diameter of the stem to discourage the development of co-dominant stems.

  6. Do not remove more than one- quarter of the living crown of a tree at one time. If it is necessary to remove more, do it over successive years.

Crown Raising

  1. Always maintain live branches on at least two-thirds of a tree's total height. Removing too many lower branches will hinder the development of a strong stem.

  2. Remove basal sprouts and vigorous epicormic sprouts.

Crown Reduction

  1. If it is necessary to remove more than half of the foliage from a branch, remove the entire branch.

  2. Use crown reduction pruning only when absolutely necessary.

  3. Make the pruning cut at a lateral branch that is at least one-third the diameter of the stem to be removed.