How do you prune a tree? If you ask a tree trimmer this question, they will either pause and be unsure of how to answer, or they'll give you a 1-hour talk with lots of details! That's because the real answer is, "it depends." There are different tips and guidelines to follow depending on the reason you're pruning and the goals you are hoping to achieve. Below, you will find some pruning tips related to some of the most common goals homeowners have as they endeavor to prune their trees.

Create clearance under the tree.

If you have a large tree and you want to create more space underneath it, then you will want to focus on removing the lower branches, of course. However, you want to make sure you first remove any branches that stick straight out from the tree trunk. The ones that angle upward might be able to be left behind since you can still get under them at the ends. If you remove the straighter branches first, you may end up removing fewer branches in total, which can be better for the tree's health. Make sure you leave small nubs of each branch behind. Even though it may look silly for a while, this is healthier for the tree.

Encourage fruit production.

If you are pruning a fruit tree with the hope of encouraging fruit production, there are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Always remove one of two branches that are rubbing together. Rubbed branches are prone to fungal infections that could compromise the fruit.
  • Remove any dead or diseased branches.
  • Always sanitize your shears between trees to avoid spreading diseases.
  • Remove bent and crooked branches, and aim to leave the straighter ones in place.

Maintain the tree's current shape.

If you are just pruning a tree in hope of maintaining or preserving its current shape, then you want to remove any long branches that are compromising the tree's shape. Always remove them at the trunk, though — do not just clip off the ends. Never remove more than half of the tree's branches at once, and try not to remove any branches that are thicker than about 2 inches.

Pruning a tree is not always easy, but with the advice above, you should be able to do a good job. Reach out to a tree trimming service near you if you need assistance or for more information.