There are three primary reasons for tree pruning. Prune for safety when branches are too weak to survive heavy winds, snow or ice. Other safety issues occur when branches are too low to allow pedestrians or vehicles or, when tree limbs block visibility to stop signs or grow too close to power lines. Health reasons to prune a tree may include: trimming limbs to allow enough air and light or removing portions that are dead and diseased. The third reason to trim a tree is to try and improve its aesthetics by reshaping and improving the tree’s visual balance. Effective pruning should leave the tree healthier and more attractive.

Following are some basic tips to successful pruning.

1.Understand your reason for pruning. As mentioned above, the primary goals for pruning trees are to improve safety, plant health, and the tree’s visual appeal. Trees that might constantly be pruned for safety reasons particularly if they grow into overhead power lines or block sidewalks and streets may be too large for space. In some cases, removing a tree that is too large for space and replacing it with a more appropriate specimen may be the best choice.

2.Understand the natural shape of your tree. In general, trees take on one of two basic shapes. Conifers like pine and spruce trees grow in a pyramid or inverted cone shape. These trees have a single stem that grows up the full length of the tree and all branches grow out of that stem. Deciduous trees including maples and oak trees grow in a spherical pattern. A single stem at the bottom divides into major branches, which then subdivide into still smaller branches. Correct pruning works with these naturally grow patterns but doesn’t cut all limbs shorter to force a tree into these shapes. Instead, pruning is about selectively removing limbs without damaging the main stem.

3.Choose branches wisely. Trees have ways of self-pruning. Limbs that don’t get enough light are unhealthy or that aren’t strongly attached to the stem will eventually die and be shed from the tree. Pruning speeds up this natural process and assures that branches don’t jeopardize property or the safety of people or domestic animals. Plan before you begins removing branches. Good choices for pruning include branches that overlap or rub other branches. Pruning should improve access to light and air for the remaining branches. Also, remove any branches that aren’t firmly attached look for v-branching patterns because they typically aren’t as healthy and u-shaped branchings. And, remove any branches that are dead or diseased. Work deliberately and avoid removing any more than to 1/3 of tree limbs in a single year.

4.Prune at the right time. In general, the best time to prune trees is during dormancy in late fall or winter. It is easier to see the growth patterns of deciduous trees after they had shed leaves, and trees are more likely to repair their wounds and prepare for new growth in the spring when pruned in dormancy.

Finally, for best results consider working with an expert. In many cases, the best choice is to consult a certified arborist or another tree expert. Pruning at the wrong time can leave your tree vulnerable to parasites and other pests. Pruning incorrectly can make it difficult for a tree to heal, and ineffective pruning can leave you with trees that aren’t as safe, healthy or attractive as they should be