Trimming young, growing trees is different from trimming more mature trees. Young trees need to be carefully shaped each year to ensure they take on an appealing shape as they grow. Mature trees don't require such extensive or regular trimming, but it's still important to trim them — or hire a pro to trim them — every couple of years or so. To ensure you are doing a good job with your more mature trees, follow these tree trimming tips.

1. Hire an arborist.

Even if you do some of the trimmings yourself, it's important to hire a pro to look over the tree now and then. They can look for signs of diseases that commonly affect shade trees, such as walnut blight and black canker. If the arborist notices the disease early enough, they may be able to just trim away the damaged wood and save the tree. On the other hand, if the disease goes overlooked for many years, the tree may die.

An arborist can also get up into the tree's crown and trim the areas you might miss on your own simply because you don't have the right equipment or a tall enough ladder.

2. Focus on removing damaged branches.

Once a tree is mature, you should not be worried too much about shaping it. Taking off too much growth will do more harm than good. A large, mature tree needs all the leaves it can get to harness sunlight to make food for all of its tissues! Focus on just removing any branches that are damaged in any way. Remove ones that are cracked, growing fungi, or missing a lot of bark. If a branch appears to be weighed down, don't remove that branch — remove the branches that are projecting from it. This strategy results in less branch loss, overall.

3. Don't "lion tail" the branches.

As you trim, make sure you are not leaving any branches heavier on the ends than at the base — a trimming mistake known as lion-tailing. This will weigh them down and make them more prone to damage in a wind storm. Remove an even amount of growth along the entire length of a big branch, or if anything, remove more from the ends than the midsection.

With these tips, you can do a better job of maintaining your mature shade trees. Turn to your arborist for more advice.