What Is The Best Tree Pruning Method?

Pruning helps produce strong, healthy, and attractive plants. It also can stimulate fruit production and increase timber value. Some prune for safety to remove branches that could fall and cause personal  injury or property damage. What is the best technique for trimming trees?

Cut removing only the branch tissue while not damaging the stem or trunk tissue. Branch and trunk tissues are contiguous where the branch attaches to the trunk. Start cutting outside the branch bark ridge. Angle down the cut away from the stem to avoid injury to the branch collar.

Removing diseased or insect-infested wood improves the plant’s health. Pruning allows for new growth by removing dead or dying branches and stubs. Thinning the crown helps increase airflow and reduces some pest problems.

The branch collar grows from the stem tissue at the underside of the branch base. You can find the branch bark ridge on the upper surface. It runs parallel to the branch angle along the trunk. Proper pruning cuts do not harm the branch collar or branch bark ridge.

The stem tissues will not become decayed when cutting only the branch tissues. The wound will also experience efficient sealing. To help the wound seal faster, make the cut as close as possible to the trunk in the branch axil.

Branch stubs will result from cutting too far from the stem. The branch tissue dies, and stem tissue forms a woundwood (callus tissue). Wound closure delays as the woundwood will have to seal over the stub.

Examine pruning wounds after one growing season. Proper pruning cuts will have formed a concentric ring of woundwood. 

What Are The Three Types Of Pruning?

Thinning, reduction, and heading cuts are the three basic types of pruning.

  • The thinning cut removes a side branch from its parent branch or trunk. Thinning helps enhance light penetration and air movement throughout the canopy. It facilitates interior branch growth. Also, it helps maintain tree structure and form. 

Thinning reduces the weight on large branches, supporting heavy crops and snow loads.

  • A reduction cut involves removing a large branch or trunk. Here the cutting will lie along the growing direction of the side branch. Since reduction cuts have no branch defense zones, they are weak against decay.

Cut at lateral branches at least one-third the diameter of the removing limb. It will prevent branch dieback.

  • Heading cut removes a branch’s growing tip releasing side buds to sprout. More dense growth at the pruning point is the purpose. Removing a limb when the side branch is less than 1/3 its diameter also falls under this type. As it is not healthy, it is not an acceptable pruning cut.

Crown raising is another practice of removing branches from the trunk bottom. It helps provide clearance for pedestrians, vehicles, or buildings. It also allows a clear stem for timber production.

Which Is Not A Best Practice Tree Trimming Technique?

Flush and stub cuttings are improper pruning cuts that can cause injury and bark ripping. Topping and tipping are pruning practices that can harm trees. 

Flush cuts originate inside the branch bark ridge or the branch collar. They can damage the stem tissues and cause decay. Stub cuts make it difficult to heal the wound as they delay or prevent the formation of woundwood. Canker fungi can enter and kill the cambium.

Topping involves the pruning of large upright branches between nodes. Tipping reduces crown width by cutting lateral branches between nodes. 

These two practices can result in epicormic sprouts. It is the death of the cut branch back to the next lateral limb below. The connection between these epicormic sprouts and the stem is much weaker.

Three-Step Pruning Cut To Prevent Bark Tearing

  1. Make a shallow notch on the branch underside. It should be outside the branch collar. It will prevent a falling branch from tearing the stem tissue. 
  2. Make the second cut outside the first cut. Leaving a short stub, make it through the branch. 
  3. Cut the stub outside the branch bark ridge or branch collar. 

Drop crotch cut is suitable for cutting trunks without bark ripping. Pole pruner, chainsaw, lopper shears, and hand shears are helpful tools for pruning. Learn pruning basics from this video.

What Are The General Rules For Pruning?

  1. Learn when to prune

Pruning during the dormant season can reduce sap and resin flow from cut branches. Conifers allow pruning any time of year. Late summer pruning promotes tender growth that cannot survive winter. 

Prune flowering trees and shrubs in the dormant season. This time is proper for hardwood trees and shrubs without showy flowers also.

  1. Learn the pruning techniques

Learn to prune without damaging branch bark ridge, branch collar, or stem tissues. Practice cutting branches without tearing.

  1. Identify problematic branches to remove them first
  • Dead, dying, or diseased branches
  • Limbs that obstruct traffic or interfere with buildings or power lines
  • Upright branches that compete for secondary trunks or develop into extra trunks
  • Inward growing branches
  • Sprouts forming at the trunk base
  • Crossed limbs that rub together
  • Limbs having narrow and weak V-shaped crotches
  1. Thin out dense growth for better health of the plant

Prune to allow light penetration and better aeration. It will improve healthy interior growth. Pruning adds aesthetic value to the plant.

  1. Regular pruning

Regular pruning helps avoid damage to plants that can cause by over-pruning.

What Is The Rule Of One-Third Pruning?

The one-third rule for pruning is removing no more than 1/3 of the living branches at a time. Over-pruning plants can stunt their growth, damage them, or lead them to stress. The plant may become prey to insects as its leaves and branches weaken. 

This rule is a balanced approach to thinning out shrubs and trees to stimulate new growth. A tree neglected for many years will need more than 1/3 of pruning to recover. Watch this video to learn more about pruning.


Pruning encourages trees to develop a strong structure. It reduces the likelihood of damage during severe weather. Proper pruning can enhance the form of plants, but improper pruning can destroy them. Give more emphasis on producing strong structures when pruning your trees.

Topiary, bonsai, and pollarding are examples of pruning to create desired, unusual shapes. They need specialized training and techniques. Practicing the basic pruning principles helps you learn these arts in depth.

Similar Posts