Tree Care: 5 Steps To Become a Tree Pruning Expert

When it comes to tree maintenance, there’s nothing more common than pruning.

The average landscaped tree requires meticulous pruning to ensure it’s in tip-top condition year-round and looks aesthetically pleasing.

But going in without a plan and cutting indiscriminately can do more harm than good – especially if you end up working on your neighbour’s trees too.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand how pruning works from a biological perspective.

The wrong approach can damage a tree and cut into its lifespan, not to mention ruin the aesthetic of a well-manicured and well-loved garden.

If you’re ready to keep your garden looking bright, beautiful and brilliant all year round, here is everything you need to know about tree pruning.

What is Tree Pruning?

Tree pruning is all about emphasising each cut and making sure it has a positive impact on the tree’s health. Nothing should be cut without rhyme or reason.

There are several benefits for pruning trees and one of them has to do with cutting off dead branches. There are additional benefits with pruning trees including improving aesthetics and eliminating the risk of excess damage.

In some cases, trees are pruned to allow light/air to come through depending on what’s around it. As trees grow in age, pruning as a service is all about prevention and making sure the tree is in good health year-round.

Tree Pruning Tip #1 – It’s All About Timing

Pruning is all about assessing the tree’s condition and spotting weak/diseased limbs well in advance. This means pruning can occur at any time during the year for maximum results. In general, the goal is to ensure each pruning session offers value to the tree. Some prefer to time their pruning sessions sometime before spring arrives.

It’s also important to take a look at potential tree diseases and pruning issues that can pop up including pathogens. It’s always smart to think about trees and what condition they’re in.

Timing may also refer to when you are legally permitted to prune trees, with legal experts explaining “trees are commonly a cause for disagreements between neighbours. While you should always look to resolve issues face to face, the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 does cover your rights as a tree owner. So it’s important to know your options.”

Tree Pruning Tip #2 – Technique Matters

Pruning can be managed with different techniques and it often depends on the tree’s condition. For example, there are pruning sessions that are dependant on cleaning dying branches and making sure the tree can grow at a reasonable rate. While there are other thinning processes designed to allow light to penetrate through without getting blocked by the tree. This can include working on the foliage and getting rid of dead weight around the limbs while retaining its shape.

According to the garden maintenance team at Sergio’s Gardening, “another technique is to raise the lower branches in a bid to allow more room underneath. This is important when it comes to allowing pedestrians and cars to get through without issue. While these processes can be done on your own, using the service of experienced arborists can make pruning your trees in Brisbane much easier.”

The reduction is a technique that looks to work on the tree’s overall size by cutting into its height. This helps in making sure the tree doesn’t take up too much space while staying firm through to its base.

Tree Pruning Tip #3 – How to Work on Younger Trees

Pruning isn’t reserved to mature trees and also involves younger trees. The goal with younger trees is to work on their overall structure and form. This is why specific pruning techniques are applied without using corrective measures.

The goal is to set up the primary branches and make sure they’re growing the right way. From a professional perspective, these limbs are termed as scaffold branches and set the framework for future development. Without the right structure, it’s far more difficult for a young tree to grow quickly and safely. It’s all about finding the right leader and making sure it grows in the right way. If you don’t prune properly, this doesn’t let the branches grow as needed.

Tree Pruning Tip #4 – Pruning Palms

Pruning palms is all about promoting flowering and getting rid of dying fronds without risking anyone including the public. For example, coconuts can become a risk for those walking underneath. In these cases, pruning has to be done at least twice a year. While others prefer going the safe route and pruning quarterly to keep the coconuts out of everyone’s way. It’s important to stick to this routine as it helps the tree stay in good shape too.

For green fronds, it’s better to keep them intact. When palms are over pruned, they tend to slow in growth. It’s also important to avoid using climbing spikes while working on trees because they can damage the trunk.

Tree Pruning Tip #5 – Avoid Topping Trees

Topping is one of those practices that is looked down upon by experts. It’s not safe but the process continues to be applied to this day despite the research.

Topping refers to pruning with reckless abandon and cutting through important branches. This is unsafe for the tree and doesn’t allow it to grow properly.

Let’s assume a tree has to be cut down in size as it starts to spread. Instead of topping, it’s better to look at using safer techniques. One of these techniques is to work on the smaller branches by cutting them down to a lower point. For larger limbs, it is important to prune them back to a lateral branch. This means only 1/3 of the limb should be removed. This is the only way to keep the tree healthy while reducing its overall size and height.

When there are large cuts to deal with, it’s difficult for the tree to manage its wounds. This is why it’s okay to remove the tree as a whole instead of letting it die out.

Knowing how to prune and top your trees can also save you time and money in the cleanup, with domestic waste experts Bargain Bins explaining “it can be challenging to know where green waste can be disposed of. By using professional services you can ensure your trees remain healthy and you have the minimal amount of green waste. Which means less work for you, and more time enjoying your pristine yard.”

Do you have any tree pruning tips we’ve missed?

We’re green with envy if you have! Please share them in the comments!


Warren is a freelance writer and recent university graduate. With a passion for creating content, he is at his happiest when diving into the research and learning about a completely new topic. When not at his laptop, Warren loves live music and can be found in the front row.