Pruning is the most common tree maintenance
procedure. Although forest trees grow quite
well with only nature's pruning, landscape
trees require a higher level of care to
maintain their safety and aesthetics. Pruning
should be done with an understanding of how
the tree responds to each cut. Improper
pruning can cause damage that will last for
the life of the tree, or worse, shorten the
Since each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be
removed without a reason. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches,
to remove crowded or rubbing limbs, and to eliminate hazards. Trees may also be pruned
to increase light and air penetration to the inside of the tree's crown or to the landscape
below. In most cases, mature trees are pruned as a corrective or preventative measure.
Routine thinning does not necessarily improve the health of a tree. Trees produce a dense
crown of leaves to manufacture the sugar used as energy for growth and development.
Removal of foliage through pruning can reduce growth and stored energy reserves.
Heavy pruning can be a significant health stress for the tree. Yet if people and trees are to
co-exist in an urban or suburban environment, then we sometimes have to modify the trees.
City environments do not mimic natural forest conditions.
Safety is a major concern. Also we want trees to complement other landscape plantings
and lawns. Proper pruning, with an understanding of tree biology, can maintain good tree
health and structure while enhancing the aesthetic and economic values of our landscapes.