How to Prune Trees

The objective of pruning is to produce strong, healthy, attractive plants. By understanding how, when and why to prune, and by following a few simple principles, this objective can be achieved.

Proper Pruning

Pruning is the removal of branches, living or dead, from woody plants. The first rule of pruning is do no cutting without a reason. Improper pruning can cause damage that will last the lifetime of the tree — or even shorten the lifespan of the tree.

Pruning Woodland Trees

Pruning woodland trees can improve timber value, appearance, access, and remove dead and diseased branchwood. Although branch shedding or self-pruning occurs naturally, landowners often have objectives that can be enhanced or expedited by artificial pruning. Natural-target pruning is a proven technique for removing branches that avoids discolored or decaying wood associated with other pruning methods. This Woodland Owner Note describes when and how to natural-target prune young pines and hardwoods for timber production.

Tree Topping Hurts!

Topping is severely cutting limbs larger than 3” in diameter to stubs within the tree’s crown so as to remove the normal canopy and disfigure the tree.

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