5 Legitimate reasons for pruning trees & shrubs that every homeowner must know to avoid disaster

5 Legitimate reasons for pruning trees & shrubs that every homeowner must know to avoid disaster

What every homeowner should know about proper pruning technique and timing

Urban landscape trees require a level of care to maintain their structural integrity, overall health, and visual appeal. Pruning is a means to make corrections to woody plants for their overall health, and branches should only be removed if their is a good reason for their removal.

Reasons for pruning

There are only a few good reasons to prune woody plants, contrary to popular beliefs. Pruning opens woody plants up to the possibility of fungal and bacterial infection, so it should only be done if there is a good reason. Here are some good reasons to prune.


The removal of branches that are structurally dangerous (ie:weak attachments,crossing branches),and low in vigor.


The removal of dead, dying, and diseased branches

Thinning and pruning

The selective removal of branches to improve structure, increase light penetration, improve air circulation within the tree canopy.

Pruning to Raise

The removal of lower branches to provide clearance for structures, people, site of vision.

Reduction Pruning

The removal of selected branches for the purpose of decreasing the height and width of a tree and maintain the structure and form of the tree.

Proper Timing  pruning time

So when can pruning be done? The simple answer is anytime that allows for growth characteristics, and flowering. So what does that mean?


Spring blooming plants should be pruned right after flowering. The reason for this is because these plants will be setting new dormant buds soon after flowering for the next season, so any pruning for these plants should be done right after flowering.


All other woody plants can be pruned up to late summer. The reason you should complete pruning for these plants by late Summer is the action of pruning itself initiates new growth. So if a woody plant is pruned by late Summer it allows any new growth to harden off before frost or freezing weather sets in. This cold weather can cause severe damage, or possibly death for the plant.

Storm Damage 

Anytime that storms cause breakage within the canopy of a woody plant the broken branches should be pruned to removed any dangerous hanging limbs. Then the broken ends should be pruned back to a proper cut to keep out disease. and allow for the wound to heal.


Anytime that “deadwood” is discovered in the canopy of a tree or a  woody shrub it should be removed.

Proper cuts

Proper cuts are essential for woody plant health, pruning exposes the plant to infection. For this reason clean cuts positioned at branch collars, or just above branch buds are important for immediate healing to begin. To make proper cuts you MUST use sharp tools so that the cuts are smooth. Only bypass pruners should be used on live tissue, anvil pruners by design will crush the branch tissue causing severe damage.


Tree and shrub pruning is an important maintenance function. The implications of improper pruning is permanent. New growth will respond according to what has been done, and weak branch joints can develop as a result of lack of knowledge of how to prune properly. Always hire trained landscape professionals to do sensitive work like pruning.

ISA Certified Arborists

An ISA Certified Arborist would be my first choice to complete this type of work, they have time in trade experience requirements, they must pass an exam over multiple aspects of arboriculture and must maintain continuing education to keep their certification. These men and women that hold an ISA Certification are experienced professionals that love what they do. They are committed to their trade and take pride in their work.

We Can Help !

WhiteHouse Landscapes LLC has an ISA Certified Arborist on staff to assist with any tree and shrub maintenance you may need done. You can receive a free landscape evaluation and quote by going to http://whitehouselandscapes.com and clicking on the get a free quote image on the right side of the page. The process is quick and easy and the initial visit is free. We look forward to serving all of your landscape needs.

Additional Reading Resource:

For additional information about how and when to properly prune trees and shrubs please visit the following link:

Proper Tree Pruning- Trees Are Good

Tree Pruning Standards