Take heed! How not to prune a tree.

Take heed! How not to prune a tree.


Pruning helps to improve the health and overall appearance of a tree, and therefore your entire garden or yard, by removing dead limbs and encouraging new growth.


Leaving dead or dying limbs in place can become a real eyesore, one that may place a great deal of stress on a tree or even pose a risk to roofing installations, parked vehicles and landscaping.


From removing too much of the tree’s natural crown to flush-cutting branches, there is a lot to learn about ‘how not to prune a tree.’ There are numerous mistakes commonly made when landscaping that may leave trees looking unsightly or even place their long-term health and ability to survive at risk.


Tree pruning.

Tree pruning.


Failure to prune trees.


Neglecting trees that may be in need of a trim is perhaps the most common of all pruning mistakes.

Removing older branches frees up nutrients and metabolic energy that can be used to foster new growth, help to ensure that trees are able to look and stay healthy and helps to minimize the potential risks that overgrown trees may pose.

Depending on the climate and type of tree, seasonal and even monthly trimming and pruning may be required in order to produce the most effective results.


Pruning too often or too aggressively.


Aggressively pruned trees.

Aggressively pruned trees.

When pruning more mature trees, removing more than a fifth of the canopy and branches at one time can cause a great deal of long-term harm.

Trimming that is too aggressive or pruning that is done too frequently may leave trees unable to produce enough energy to support themselves, a condition which may cause them to weaken or even die over time.

Do your research prior to landscaping to learn ‘how not to prune a tree’ and ensure you are less likely to cause long-term or permanent damage to your trees.


Removing too much of the tree’s crown.


While not quite as damaging as over pruning, topping is an area where mistakes are commonly made that may leave trees looking far less attractive.

Removing too much of the crown, canopy or top branches can weaken the overall structure of a tree while greatly detracting from its natural aesthetic.

Trees commonly produce multiple new branches in place of a single limb that has been removed.

While it is almost always beneficial to remove dead or dying branches, care should be taken when pruning healthy limbs in order to foster new growth that will bolster the structural integrity, stability and overall aesthetic of a tree.


Cutting the branch below the collar. 


Butting branches too close to the trunk, known as flush cutting, was once the standard method of pruning.

Flush cutting may cause a number of issues and problems, such as disease or pest and fungal infestations, due to the removal of protective trunk tissue.

Cutting limbs above the collar helps to ensure that trees are able to stay healthy and issue-free.

While using sealants and other products on exposed areas after pruning can minimize the risks associated with flush cutting, such practices should be avoided if at all possible.

Products such as sealant and pruning tar should always be used when attempting to keep new limb growth to a minimum.


Information provided courtesy of Valley Tree Managers. They are a full service cactus, tree, and stump removal company who have been around for years!

Published by Christine Blythe

Christine is the owner and author for her three blogs: Empty Nest Ancestry, Feathering the Empty Nest, and Top Web Blog Tips. Periodically, if a post topic is appropriate to either of her other blogs, they will be published as a guest post by CJB.