Ideas & Inspiration

Tips for Pruning Trees and Shrubs

What to Prune Now
What to Prune Now

While maintenance pruning of most shade trees can be done any time, some species best respond to pruning at specific times of the year. Consult a Garden Center associate to learn the right time to prune your specific trees.

Tools
Tools

The right tools make pruning easier and help you do a good job. Use pruning shears for most jobs for cuts up to ¾-inch in diameter. Lopping shears, with their long handles, provide leverage and cut branches up to 1½ inches in diameter. Hand and pole saws cut branches up to 4 inches in diameter. Use small chain saws on larger branches. Keep tools well-maintained and sharp.

Cuts
Cuts

All cuts should be made on the branch side of the stem collar, which grows out from the stem at the base of the branch. This protects the stem and other branches that might be growing. It also allows the tree to heal more effectively after pruning.

Three-Cut Method
Three-Cut Method

To prevent tearing bark during a cut, use the three-cut method: First, make a small wedge-shaped cut under the branch on the branch side of the stem collar. Next, cut off the branch 6 – 12 inches from this wedge, leaving a stub end. Finally, cut parallel to and just on the branch side of the stem collar as close to the tree’s trunk as possible.

Safety
Safety

Proper pruning requires skill. Be sure to wear protective clothing and safety goggles. For any job that requires you to lift a chainsaw over your head, it’s safest to call a certified arborist.