Tree trimming guide

Regular trimming of tree branches is a fundamental step in any garden maintenance schedule.

Trimming overgrown branches has many benefits. It triggers new growth so you can use it to encourage new leaves, flowers, or fruit production. It will also help combat diseases by cutting of the sick parts of the tree and introducing better airflow to the healthy sections. So by trimming our plants, we keep them healthy and living longer. Lastly, pruning trees and shrubs allows us to shape them however we want.

Unless you have very tall trees that would require you to climb higher than you’re comfortable with then pruning can be done easily by yourself if you have the right tools for the job. It might not be easy at first but it’s definitely a skill that anyone can master with enough practice. To help you, we’ve prepared a short guide that will answer the three basic questions about plant trimming: when to trim, with what tools, and how.

When

This depends on the kind of tree or shrub you want to trim. Most plants are fine with pruning when out of season – the period from January to March being the most ideal. Having no leaves obstructing your view will help you identify which branches need to be pruned. But doing so right after they lose their foliage can be risky because if there is a sudden spike in temperatures then the plant can start growing unexpectedly. It is better to wait until late winter to make sure that pruning won’t encourage any new sudden growth.

However, be aware that each tree acts differently and the above are just general rules. Especially flowering trees can be quite capricious. Early blooming trees, such as magnolias and cherry trees should be pruned after they finish blooming. If you have doubts, research your particular type of tree before doing any pruning.

With what

The tools you use should be adjusted to the size of the branch. Thinner parts don’t require large power tools but thick branches might need to be removed using a power saw. You should also have a good pair of hand shears to trim small twigs and a manual saw for larges branches. A folding saw is a good choice because it can be safely stored when not in use. The best folding saw will allow you to quickly get through all standard-sized branches that need trimming.

How

The cuts should be made at a downward angle so that water cannot settle in the wound because that can lead to eventual rotting. So logically, you should never remove branches that are growing upwards because it will be impossible to stop the water from entering the wound.

Locate the dead branches and twigs that need to be removed. Also, decide which ones pose a potential hazard – for example, some branches are growing too low and might fall down on someone. You should also cut off any weak-looking growths that tend to form at the base of the trunk.

The more you prune your trees, the better and more efficient you will become. Just remember that you shouldn’t go too fast to avoid accidentally cutting off too much.