No tree should be pruned without first establishing clearly defined objectives. Pruning can be done for many reasons, including:

Reduce risk of failure – risk of tree failure can be reduced by establishing a structural pruning program

Provide clearance – growth can be directed away from an object such as a building, lights, streets, signs, or power lines

Reduce shade and wind resistance – lawn, ground covers, or shrubs can receive more sunlight. The trees resistance to wind can also be reduced with proper pruning.

Maintain health – removing dead, dying, diseased, and rubbing branches can help maintain the health of the tree.

Influence flower or fruit production – pruning can influence the number and/or size of flowers or fruit

Improve view – a view can be enhanced by proper pruning

Improve aesthetics – the improvement of appearance by proper pruning

M. LaBare Certified Arborist, LLC typically uses 7 pruning types to help keep trees healthy and thriving. These include:

Structural Pruning – structural pruning is the removal of live branches and stems to influence the orientation, spacing, growth rate, strength of attachment, and ultimate size of the branches and stems.

Crown Cleaning – cleaning is the selective removal of dead, diseased, detached, and broken branches. This type of pruning is done to reduce the risk of branches falling from the tree and to reduce the movement of decay, insects, and diseases from dead or dying branches to the rest of the tree.

Pruning to thin – thinning is the selective removal of small live branches to reduce crown density. Proper thinning retains crown shape and should provide an even distribution of foliage throughout the crown.

Raise – raising is the selective removal of branches to provide vertical clearance. Crown raising shortens or removes lower branches of a tree to provide clearance for buildings, signs, vehicles, pedestrians, and vistas.

Reduce – reduction is the selective removal of branches and stems to decrease the height and/or spread of a tree or shrub. This type of pruning is done to minimize risk of failure, to reduce height or spread, for utility line clearance, to clear vegetation from buildings or other structures, or to improve the appearance of the plant.

Restoration – restoration pruning is the selective removal of branches, sprouts, and stubs from trees and shrubs that have been topped, severely headed, vandalized, lion tailed, broken in a storm, or otherwise damaged. The goal of restoration pruning is to improve the tree’s structure, form, or appearance.

Pollarding – pollarding is a training system that involves severe heading the first year followed by annual sprout removal to maintain trees at a predetermined size or to maintain a “formal” appearance.

When to prune – the best time to prune live branches depends on the desired results. Pruning when trees are dormant can minimize the risk for pest problems associated with wounding and allows trees to take advantage of the full growing season to close and compartmentalize wounds. The timing of pruning can be an important part of a Plant Health Care program.