- Begin visual inspection at the top of the tree and work downward.
- Use The ⅓ and ¼ Rules of Pruning
- Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season
- Ideally, main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the trunk.
- For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.
- Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical that form “10 o’clock” or “2 o’clock” angles with the trunk.
- For most species, the tree should have a single trunk. Identify the best leader and later branches before you begin pruning and remove defective parts before pruning for form.
- Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts. For aesthetics, you may feel better painting large wounds but it doesn’t prevent or reduce decay.
- Keep tools sharp. One-hand pruning shears with curved blades work best on young trees.
- For high branches use a pole pruner. A major job on a big tree should be done by a professional arborist.
For larger branches, cut outside the branch bark and ridge
collar (swollen area). Do not leave a protruding stub. If the limb is
too small to have formed a collar cut close.
When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a
lateral bud or another lateral branch. Favor a bud that will produce a
branch that will grow in desired direction (usually outward). The cut
should be sharp and clean and made at a slight angle about ¼ inch beyond
Correct Pruning Cut Too Close Too Long Too Slanted
"[People] are not naturally inclined to look at themselves honestly, to perform a self-evaluation under the bright and perfect light of God’s Word. They know instinctively that their pride, self-will and love of sin will be exposed under the Lord’s righteous standards." ~ John MacArthur