Pruning & Trimming- It’s Tree Surgery

Why do we prune trees?  Don’t they do well by themselves without our help?

We ask a lot of the trees that grow in an urban environment.  Space is limited, the soil has been compacted, soil nutrients are constantly being depleted, people damage them, etc.  Pruning is one of the management techniques that help a tree maintain its health and vigor in the space we are asking it to grow in.

Proper pruning is much more than cutting the lower limbs or stripping out the interior suckers. A tree is well maintained when professional arborists are allowed to work in the entire crown and only remove limbs and small branches that enhance the health and beauty of the tree.

Pruning is generally done for these reasons:

  • Removal of deadwood
  • Reduction off buildings and other structures
  • Reduction of interference with neighboring trees
  • Reduction of weight to reduce breakage hazard
  • Selectively thinning to improve air flow through the canopy
  • Reduce transpiration rates to match root water absorption capacity
  • Shape and beautify the crown

Notice that beauty and aesthetics are last in the list.  A healthy tree is generally a beautiful tree.  We prune first for reasons of health and the trees beauty will become evident.  At times we may need to shape a tree that has lost a limb in a storm or for some other reason, but generally pruning is done first and foremost for the health of the tree.

Trees should be analyzed for pruning every 2-4 years depending on the species, the site, growth rates, etc. Trees should never be pruned for pruning sake. A professional arborist can properly analyze a tree for pruning, provide recommendations for the long-term health of the tree, and specify what pruning (if any) should be done.

Scott Geer

Scott Geer

Scott Geer has a master's degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University and is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist.® He is also a graduate of the American Society of Consulting Arborists Academy.